FBI outlines case against Tarek Mehanna in terror plot
Massachusetts resident Tarek Mehanna, arrested Wednesday, plotted to attack Americans at a shopping mall, FBI says. Failing that, he tried cyberattacks.
Frustrated at failing in his travels overseas to locate a terrorist training camp, a Massachusetts man returned home in 2003 to begin plotting a domestic terror attack. Thrilled by the 9/11 attacks and impressed by the success of the Washington, D.C., snipers in terrorizing the public in late 2002, Tarek Mehanna and several friends began planning an attack on a shopping mall, a Federal Bureau of Investigation complaint alleges.Skip to next paragraph
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In "multiple conversations, discussions, and preparation," Tarek Mehanna, a student living at home with his parents in Sudbury, Mass., discussed with three other men how to "obtain automatic weapons, go to a shopping mall, and randomly shoot people," according to the federal criminal complaint filed in a US district court Wednesday.
The trio – Mehanna, Ahmad Abousamra, and an unnamed informant – debated logistics, types of weapons needed, the number of attackers needed, how to coordinate the attack, and how to attack emergency responders, the FBI says.
But like others' attempts to fight alongside terrorists against the United States, Mehanna's purported scheme ran into a problem. One of the group traveled to New Hampshire to acquire automatic weapons but could not get them – and so the plan was abandoned, the complaint says.
Mehanna, who graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in May 2008, has been charged with conspiring to "provide material support and resources" for terrorists.
Authorities have been building a case for some time.
Mehanna had posted bail from a November 2008 arrest for lying to the FBI after agents interviewed him in December 2005, according to news reports. The FBI says he lied when questioned about Daniel Maldonado, a former resident of Methuen, Mass., suspected of traveling to Somalia to train in an Al Qaeda training camp.
Mr. Maldonado is now serving a 10-year sentence for training with Al Qaeda in Somalia. Mr. Abousamra fled the US in late 2006 after being interviewed by the FBI and is now living with his wife in Syria, the complaint says.
But Mehanna, too, was taking steps to become a terrorist by, among other things, traveling to try to find a terrorist training camp, the complaint says. Failing that, he returned home.
There were brief discussions among the group – which at one point included Maldonado and Abousamra. After the mall massacre plan fell through, Mehanna turned to the idea of becoming the "media wing" for Al Qaeda in Iraq. He established a website and became a blogger and disseminator of jihadist videos and other material, an affidavit in support of an FBI search warrant alleges.