October 21, 2009

Terror Arrest In Boston (UPDATED, BUMPED: Blogger Arrested)

mahanna1021.jpg

Especially troubling given the connection between Boston and the 9-11 attacks.

Via Yahoo News: BOSTON – A Massachusetts man has been arrested on federal terrorism-related charges on suspicion of planning attacks inside and outside the United States.

A person familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity says the man was arrested early Wednesday. The person was not authorized to divulge details of the investigation.

The person says the man is from the Boston suburb of Sudbury and had two co-conspirators.

Tarek Mehanna (TEH'-rek meh-HAH'-nah), of Sudbury, was arrested in November 2008 on suspicion of lying to authorities about the whereabouts of a man who trained with al-Qaida members with the goal of overthrowing the Somali government.

Mehanna pleaded not guilty and was released on bail. Officials would not immediately say Wednesday whether the man arrested was him.

Hmmm, related to Zazi investigation? I hope so if not they've found another cell.

UPDATE: Confirmed, this is Terek Mehanna. But there's a second man involved in this plot named Ahmad Abousamra. Others involved go unnamed.

Boston Globe:

Desiring to take “some kind of action in furtherance of jihad,” Tarek Mehanna and his conspirators allegedly had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in malls, including discussions of the logistics of the mall attacks, assaulting from different entrances, obtaining the automatic weapons, and possible attacks on emergency responders, US Attorney Michael Loucks said this morning....

Mehanna is facing a charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Authorities allege he conspired with Ahmad Abousamra and others in the plot, Loucks said in a news conference today at his office in Boston.

I think Howie's instincts were right, but I don't think that it was Yazi that this guy may have been involved with. Or, at least, it seems that way:
Prosecutors alleged that members of the conspiracy traveled to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, seeking training from various terrorist groups to fight against US soldiers, though none of them were accepted.
At first when I read Yazi, I thought Daniel Boyd --- the leader of the North Carolina cell. In that case, the allegation was the same: that several of the cell's members traveled abroad to join the jihad but had never been accepted by terror groups. Too American I guess. You can't trust those Americans.
Prosecutors also said the conspirators viewed and disseminated jihadist videos.
Imagine that: would-be jihadis viewing and disseminating jihadi videos online!

His accomplice, though, seems to have fled the country:

In December 2006, Abousamra was interviewed by the members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and within two weeks, he left for Syria and has never returned, Loucks said.
Mehanna goes by the handle "Abu Sayaba" online and is the blogger behind Iskandari.

He's fallen off my radar screen since his arrest last year, but the fact that he's still blogging seems to indicate that the feds declined to prosecute. His blog today is more circumspect in its support for jihad, but if you scroll down you'll see that he still proclaims himself a salaf and a follower of Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah -- which puts him in the same religious/ideological camp as Osama bin Laden.

But his last blog post? October 14th.

His original arrest was for lying to federal investigators about another convicted jihadi and former blogger, Daniel Maldanado. Maldanado was convicted of receiving weapons training from al Qaeda operatives while in Somalia.

Here's some more information from my previous post on Mehanna:

In addition to friends like Maldanado who has been convicted on terrorism related charges, Mehanna's online buddies include:

Shades of Swords, who glorifies the executed Bali bombers as martyrs.

Inshallahshaheed (Samir Khan), who we have an entire category devoted to and who claims he personally doesn't go off to fight the jihad because "it's hard" and who recently has set up his own media division in support of terrorist organizations.

Jihad Fields Are Calling, who's name pretty much sums it up.

If any one has any more info, please email me.

Thanks to National Terror Alert for the tip.

UPDATE: Ed points out that the plot seems that it went cold a few years ago.

But two dangers seem to remain:

a) Mehanna continues to openly push the jihadi worldview on his blog and probably elsewhere online. While encouraging others towards violent jihadism is a less proximate danger, it is a danger nonetheless. His absence from the world of eHad will not be missed. Not by me at least. But maybe Samir will shed a few tears?

b) The inference from public statements made by the prosecutors is that Mehanna was also connected to Daniel Boyd and his encouragement of young people to travel to the "Jihad Fields". If this reading is correct, then Mehanna may have also been actively involved in present recruiting activities -- although it seems that he himself was too big of a coward to put his money where his mouth was and go become a suicide bomber himself.

So, maybe he was more of a danger than Ed gives him credit for?

UPDATE: Okay, so Or Shohor sent me a copy of the complaint against Mehanna and it looks like he is not --- I repeat IS NOT --- connected to the Daniel Boyd led North Carolina jihad cell. At least, not directly.

The inferences from published news reports that he was connected to several would be jihadis who traveled abroad but was rejected from the training camps refers to Mehanna himself -- who traveled to Yemen looking for jihad training but couldn't find any jihadis to train him.

The money quote about that:

half the people they wanted to see were on "hajj," referring to the pilgrimage to Mecca in Islam, and half were in jail."
Lulz!

Apparently, they were told to go to look up so and so, but the guy giving them that advice was a "white convert" to Islam living in California who had been to the camps back in the 1990s.

Also "looking for jihad in all the wrong places" was Ahmad Abousamra, who traveled with Mehanna to Yemen and to Iraq and Pakistan on his own. As suspected, the Iraqi mujahideen wouldn't take him because they were distrustful of an American. But the Pakistani Taliban and LeT wouldn't take him because he was an Arab. So, the next time you hear a Muslim decry discrimination in the US, remember this.

Also involved was an unnamed cooperating witness who traveled to Yemen with the pair, but chickened out.

UPDATE: Temper, temper:

Tarek Mehanna, 27, initially refused to stand for the judge before the terror charge against him was read at the brief hearing Wednesday. He finally did stand — tossing his chair loudly to the floor — only after his father urged him to do so.

By Howie at 11:11 AM | Comments |