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Tariq Mehanna: Obama's Latest Muslim Target
Monday, 26 October 2009
Given government policies and given slanderous media characterizations, it's no surprise why it's dangerous to be Muslim in America.
Post-9/11, Muslims have been victimized, vilified, and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. They've been targeted, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences, then incarcerated for extra harsh treatment as political prisoners in segregated Communication Management Units (CMUs) in violation of US Prison Bureau regulations and the Supreme Court's February 2005 Johnson v. California decision.
An October 21 FBI press release announced Tariq (mispelled Tarek) Mehanna as its most recent target saying:
With no substantiating evidence, "Mehanna and coconspirators (were accused of having) discussed their desire to participate in violent jihad against American interests and that they would talk about fighting jihad and their desire to die on the battlefield. (They also) attempted to radicalize others and inspire each other by, among other things, watching and distributing jihadi videos. (In addition), Mehanna and two of his associates traveled to the Middle East in February 2004, seeking military-type training at a terrorist training camp (to) prepare them for armed jihad....including (against) US and allied forces in Iraq....(One) of Mehanna's coconspirators made two similar trips to Pakistan in 2002."
Yet no attack occurred. None ever was likely planned, but according to the FBI, it was because no automatic weapons could be obtained even though legal semi-automatic ones are freely sold and illegal automatic ones easily gotten.
The web site eastcoastfirearms.com lists for sale numerous ones, including AK-47 (Kalashnikov) assault rifles, AR-15/M16 type rifles, Uzi assault weapons, LWRC M6A2s called the most modern carbine rifle in the world, and various others with considerable firepower.
Federal Judge Leo Sorokin ordered Mehanna held without bail pending his next court hearing on October 30. After his ruling, his attorney, JW Carney, Jr. said:
Mr. Carney will soon discover how prosecutors use secret evidence, paid informants, and will go to any lengths to intimidate juries to convict, regardless of a defendant's guilt or innocence, especially targeted Muslims charged with intent to commit or provide material support for terrorism.
According to the Bureau, Mehanna and his "coconspirators" used code words like "peanut and jelly" to mean fighting in Somalia and "culinary school" for terrorist camps, but perhaps they said precisely what they meant, and what proof suggests otherwise.
The FBI also claimed when they weren't able to join terror groups in Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan, the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings inspired them to attack shopping malls instead as well as two (unnamed) former executive branch members.
Mehanna is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy where his father, Ahmed, is a professor. They reside in Sudbury, MA, an affluent Boston suburb.
Neighbors expressed shock by the news. Chafic Maalouf called Mehanna "very sweet (and) soft-spoken. He seemed so harmless. He has a beard and a dark complexion, so to the average American he fits the terrorist profile. But if you look in his eyes, he seemed to be a very genuine, kind, loving person," not a jihadist.
Paul McManus called him "everyday normal. When he was out walking, he was friendly (and) neighborly." Another supporter said the FBI is "painting the wrong picture of the Muslim community" by targeting one of its up and coming members. Still others cited his work with youths as a teacher at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, MA.
Abdul Cader Asmal, the Center's former president, said he gave lectures at Friday services in Worchester, MA and translated poetic Arabic scriptures into English. Over time, he became dedicated to his beliefs as many people of all faiths do who plan no terrorist acts.
Ahmad AlFarsi defended Mehanna in a 2008 article following his previous arrest that's pertinent to his current charges. At first, he hesitated "so as not to expose (his) privacy," then felt he had to support his friend "since the media has already made his case and name public" and practically convicted him in the court of public opinion.
AlFarsi called him "one of the most gracious, kind, caring, thoughtful, and respectable people I have ever known....I have seen him go above above and beyond what most others would do to help others in need. Those who know him personally know exactly what I am talking about. I am sure any of his peers, Muslim or non-Muslim, would testify to his excellent character."
He's also been "very involved in the Muslim community. I remember many times that he would be giving halaqaat (Islamic lectures) in the local masjid (Muslim place of worship) on an Islamic text he was studying. And he helped many many other Muslims in the community come to the straight path....I'd also like to emphasize that he does not and never has supported nor been involved with terrorism, in any way whatsoever."
Consider "the implications of this incident: we have another (Muslim man, an American citizen) with no previous criminal record of any kind, being held without bail (for now) in his own country....Such a tactic serves only to smear Muslims, and brings pain and suffering to him, his family, and his future," and leaves all Muslims "fearful, marginalized, and unable to trust the authorities."
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) October 20 Affidavit
JTTF Special Agent Heidi L. Williams assisted in the investigation of Mehanna, Ahmad Abousamra, and others, and presented alleged evidence to establish probable cause, but said "classified national security information" would remain secret, unavailable to the defense, and therefore beyond its capability to disprove.
She also said "information set forth herein comes from two cooperating witnesses ('CW1' and 'CW2' - aka commonly used FBI informants to entrap). Both CWs provided information that was based on personal knowledge, including actions and statements by MEHANNA and ABOUSAMRA." Their trial testimony will show "corroborative evidence in the form of consensually recorded conversations" with defendants and others. "Further evidence is provided by Daniel Maldonado, who was a friend of MEHANNA and ABOUSAMRA, and is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for Receiving Military-type Training from a Foreign Terrorist Organization (to wit: Al Qa' ida....)."
"Additional information was obtained from a review of records of governmental agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") and Department of State, Passport Office, as well as records of private entities, such as banks, airlines, telephone companies and internet service providers, and interviews of friends, relatives and acquaintances (of defendants)."
Williams cited more evidence from:
The lengthy 55-page affidavit, plus attachments, also claimed:
From all this, an observer might conclude there was no plan, no weapons, and no crime in what appears to be clear entrapment using a paid informant, a coconspirator CW 2, offering testimony in return for leniency, and Maldonado (imprisoned for 10 years) promised it as well for his cooperation. Nonetheless, under US conspiracy law, if prosecutors can convince juries that defendants words implied actions they can get convictions, especially when they cite terrorism and the urgency to prevent it at all costs, even if innocent victims are imprisoned for offenses they never committed of planned.
Mehanna Friends, Supporters, and Family Express Doubts about the Charges
With no previous criminal record, his friends and family call him a maturing Muslim community leader, a passionate writer, and a young man wanting a career in Saudi Arabia as a pharmacist, not a jihadist, even though he supports the right of oppressed peoples to resist as international law allows. In the Kingdom, he was promised good pay, generous benefits, and free trips home. He was boarding a plane in Boston en route when he was arrested.
In a summer 2009 interview with the Boston Globe and subsequent statements through his lawyer, he denied FBI allegations and accused federal investigators of targeting him with bogus charges because they wanted him as a government informant, pressured him to accede, but he refused and wouldn't cooperate. That made him suspect, an enemy, and got him targeted.
The Dominant Media's Jihad against Muslims
Whenever Muslims are charged, the dominant media provides support without ever questioning the legitimacy of accusations. As a result, innocent victims are vilified. They're presumed guilty unless proved innocent. Fear is instilled in the public, while law enforcement officials are portrayed as public defenders, working to keep us safe from bad guys. Below are some samples of media bias:
Nowhere do major media or hate group reports suggest possible bogus charges, ulterior motives behind them, innocent people being targeted, secret evidence withheld to compromise a proper defense, intimidation of juries, or that everyone is presumed innocent unless proved guilty in fair and open proceedings with defendants having competent counsel.
According to muslimmatters.org after Mehanna's 2008 arrest, the FBI was "Desperate for Results (so they) Arrest(ed a) US Citizen on Two-Year-Old (unsubstantiated) Charges" and got their usual scare headlines for support.
These comments followed his October 21 arrest:
A Final Comment
More than any other ethnic-religious group, Western discourse has long portrayed Muslim/Arabs stereotypically as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent.
According to Jack Shaheen's book, "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People," defaming them has been fair game throughout decades of cinematic history (from silent films to today's blockbusters) as a way to foster prejudicial attitudes and reinforce notions of Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.
Worse still are slanderous media characterizations of dangerous gun-toting terrorists who must rounded up and put away, never mind the rule of law, right or wrong, or whether those accused are guilty or innocent.
It's no surprise why it's dangerous to be Muslim in America at a time when we're all as vulnerable as Tariq Mehanna.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on October 26, 2009.
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