Well, this afternoon I read the criminal search warrant and affidavit and the criminal complaint filed on Tarek Mehanna today (So you wouldn't have to, my possums.)
I kept Mr. Mehanna's attorney's admonishment to remember that his client was innocent until proven guilty in mind. I also know that the government is required to prove its allegations in open court and I am perfectly willing to wait.
<--- He was defiant and disruptive in court today so here is Tarek's mug shot.
Several things popped out at me.
1.) This isn't Tarek's first jihadi rodeo. He's someone who has been known to authorities for a long time.
2.) He was more than a Jihad wannabe and it appears he had the means($), motive (Muslim), method (he came up with a bunch of them) and opportunity (his computer, his ability to travel freely and the persistence to wage jihad until he succeeded) to carry it out.
3.) I still can't figure out the deal with the parents. Given his previous interaction with the FBI they had to have known the kid was up to no good. To hear his father to say today's arrest and court proceedings were "all a show" is disturbing to me.
Anyway, here's a summary of my findings. I'd be interested to hear what you think.
About the investigation: It appears there are two corroborating witnesses and they are both prepared to testify at trial. Both corroborating witness have long associations (10+ years)with Mehanna. Customs records, State Department records, and Passport Office data as well as records of private entities such as banks, airlines, telephone and ISP records, and interviews of friends, relatives and acquaintances were all used. In addition, phones were wiretapped. (pg 2-3)
About the 2008 charges against him: He was interviewed in 2006 by the FBI regarding an 2004 trip to Yemen with two others. He was also asked about terror suspect Maldonado. He lied to the FBI, admitted it in a subsequent conversations with other individuals and in November 2008 was charged with lying to the FBI in a criminal complaint. He was indicted for that in January 2009. (pg 4-5) He is on strict conditions of release from the court which restrict his ability to leave home and has a 12pm-6am curfew. (pg. 53)
About the aspiring jihadis, Mehanna and Abousamra: They sure were persistent. I will say that for them. They all talked about fighting the jihad and "how wonderful it would be to die on the battlefield" in Iraq or Chechnya. (pg. 16) They tried to find a terror camp in Pakistan to go to. (pg. 14) but were not accepted by the L-e-T. They began to explore other options, first came possible attacks on two government officials (not named). That didn't go anywhere so they came up with the idea of a mall attack but couldn't get automatic weapons from Maldonaldo. They discussed ways to enter Iraq through neighboring countries but couldn't come up with a feasible plan. An online message board discussion with a white convert to Islam teaching at an Islamic school in California yielded the suggestion of Yemen. Mehanna and Abousamra then flew out to CA to discuss it with him. (pg 13-18) The three of them eventually went to Yemen.
About that trip to Yemen: Mehanna, Abousamra and Witness #2 traveled from Boston to London to the UAE and then onto Yemen. They were in Yemen from 2/4/2004 to 2/11/2004. Witness #2 paid for the tickets and they pooled their resources, dividing the cash 3 ways to avoid scrutiny and avoid $ reporting requirements. They concocted a cover story to tell authorities just in case: "Religious studies at a school, Dar al Mustafa". They never contacted the school and needless to say, never attended. Witness #2 left a video for his family explaining his whereabouts. (PG 19) Before departing they trimmed their beards and hiked to get in shape. They watched jihadi videos. Witness #2 got a call from his family and he chickened out. He did not go to Yemen. (pg. 20) Mehanna and Abousamra went but the trip did not go well. "Half the people they wanted to see were on hajj and half were in jail" (ed, note: this still cracks me up) The one person they did see told them that since 9/11 'all that stuff was gone'. (pg 24)
About becoming "the Media Wing" for al Qaeda: This was discussed with another individual in 2006. It was hoped "their efforts would bear its fruit" (pg. 37-38) Some examples of things found on Mehanna's computer include "39 ways to serve and participate in Jihad" ("I hope the book makes an impact.")numerous jihadi videos, and items glorifying al Qaeda leaders. (pg. 43)
About Mehanna's computer: It was searched in 2006 and 2008. The search in 2008 revealed wide swathes of data had been removed. In 2008, Mehanna's father's laptop was also searched because of Tarek's access to it. It too, showed signs of 'cleaning'. A subject that was discussed by Mehanna and his associates both on the phone and online. It will be very interesting to see what they find on his computer when they search it now!
About his parents and what they knew:
...When asked if they knew why he went to Yemen, Mehanna replied: "they know I didn't go there to graze goats. You don't tell your parents, "I'm going to fight jihad"..."you just tell them I'm leaving." (editor's notes: And the parents don't question you?) (pg. 29)
About 9/11: His computer held photos of Mehanna and others at Ground Zero, making a mockery of the attacks as they smiled and held up a single finger as if to say "we're number one". (pg. 42) He actively sought a video tribute to the 9/11 bombers and wrote that instead of calling NY the land of two towers it should be called the 'land of rape'. He stated that instead of asking for God's mercy on the WTC victims they should just ask God for mercy on the building. His reasoning: At least the buildings weren't sinners like the people inside it were.
About the US military: It is "unfathomable" that the United States has military bases in "the heart of the Muslim world" and the "land of Mohammed." (pg. 31)
About Muslims living in America: Mehanna describes them as 'house slaves'. He described himself as "feeling like a fish out of water'" in the United States. (pg 31)
About Suicide bombings: Abousamra and Mehanna debated the 'legality of suicide bombings resulting in the death of innocent civilians'. Their verdict? It 'was permissible if the benefit was greater than the loss. They approved of the 9/11 attacks and were happy when they heard about American deaths in Iraq. (pg. 11) (Ed. note: Read my startling true confession, I watch war porn over at Weasel Zippers.)
About "Culinary School" and "Peanut Butter and Jelly": These were the code phrases used by Maldonaldo and Mehanna when Maldonaldo called Mehanna from Somalia in early December 2006. "Making a PB & J" meant "fighting the jihad".
About Tarek the poet: He authored a poem about jihad:
"Make Martyrdom what you seek"
The bullets hit your hearts like the stings of a bee
You fall on your face as all you can see,
Are the Gardens so wide when you’re put in the ground
You’ve been searching for years and now you have found,
The Ultimate Prize, so sacred, so sweet
Your bargain with your Lord is finally complete,
Because you are all martyrs without fear or grief
Who gave all you had for your precious belief,
You promised Him your souls and He promised you much more
Now you can enjoy what He’s kept in store,
Too much Muslim mumbo jumbo "poetry" for me. You can read the rest here. I'll just leave you with this verse:
These are the Hoorees with round and firm chests
Pure untouched virgins, they’re better than the best,