Boston-Area Pharmacy Grad Convicted of Supporting Al-Qaeda

By Janelle Lawrence and Don Jeffrey –

Tarek Mehanna, a pharmacy-schoolgraduate, was convicted by a federal jury in Boston of aidingal-Qaeda and of lying to U.S. authorities about his involvementwith the group.

Mehanna, 29, who earned a doctorate from the MassachusettsCollege of Pharmacy & Health Science, was found guilty on allcounts against him, including making false statements,conspiracy to provide material support to a terroristorganization and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country.

Mehanna became an operative for al-Qaeda after traveling toYemen in 2004 for terrorist training, prosecutors told the juryat the beginning of the trial before U.S. District Judge George O’Toole in October.

The defendant translated materials for terrorists fromArabic to English, including an Al-Qaeda manual called “39 Waysto Serve and Participate in Jihad,” or holy war, according toprosecutors. They also said he lied to government agents abouthis reasons for going to Yemen. He wasn’t charged with planningor trying to carry out any terrorist attacks.

Defense lawyers told the jury that the prosecution by U.S.Attorney Carmen Ortiz violated their client’s right to freespeech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Mehanna was arrested at his home in Sudbury, Massachusetts,in October 2009 and pleaded not guilty in November 2009.

Mall Plot Abandoned

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said Mehanna and afriend, Ahmed Abousamra, who met at a local mosque when theywere boys, discussed a plot to shoot shoppers at a mall,abandoning the plan when they couldn’t get weapons. Mehannaisn’t charged in connection with that alleged plot. Abousamra isa fugitive.

Mehanna’s father, Ahmed, emigrated from Egypt in the 1970sand is a professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

The case is U.S. v. Mehanna, 09-10017, U.S. District Court,District of Massachusetts (Boston).

To contact the reporter on this story:Janelle Lawrence in Boston at jlawrence@me.com;Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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