A federal jury in Boston found a Sudbury Muslim man guilty of conspiring to help al-Qaeda and plotting to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
Prosecutors allege Mehanna and two friends conspired to go to Yemen so they could receive training at a terrorist camp with the intention of going on to Iraq to fight against U.S. soldiers there. Prosecutors say when they couldn’t find a camp, Mehanna returned home and began translating and distributing publications over the Internet to promote violent jihad.
He was arrested on October 21, 2009 in a case investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Mehanna’s lawyers say he went to Yemen to look for religious schools, not to seek terrorist training, and his online activities were protected by the First Amendment. (Religious schools, Terror training schools, what’s the difference?)
Prosecutors focused on hundreds of online chats in which they said Mehanna and his friends talked about their desire to participate in jihad.
Mehanna’s lawyers told jurors that prosecutors were using scare tactics by portraying Mehanna as a would-be terrorist and were trying to punish him for his beliefs. (Indeed they were. Muslims believe in terrorism)
His mother cried, yelled, and stomped her feet outside the court room. Mehanna’s younger brother tried to console her. Mehanna’s attorney J.W. Carney, Jr. said they were “disappointed” with the verdict and they will appeal.