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Mehanna Guilty Verdict Fuels Debate Over Terror Trials

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn giving his closing arguments in the trial of Tarek Mehenna. Behind him are Jay Carney, Janice Bassil and Mehanna. Their two aides are front right. (Margaret Small)

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn giving his closing arguments in the trial of Tarek Mehenna. Behind him are Jay Carney, Janice Bassil and Mehanna. Their two aides are front right. (Margaret Small)

A major verdict in a potentially precedent-setting federal terrorism case was handed down Tuesday, as a jury found Tarek Mehanna, an American-born man from Sudbury, Mass., guilty on all counts, including conspiring to provide material support al-Qaida, lying to FBI agents, and conspiring to kill in a foreign country.

Federal prosecutors argued that Mehanna traveled to Yemen in 2004 to seek terrorism training. He never got that training, and instead turned to translating Al-Qaeda texts, which he posted on the internet.

“I feel like this is all just a bigger part of promoting Islamaphobia in this country, and it’s ridiculous. I cant feel safe being an American Muslim anymore,” said Omar Abdelkader, a friend of Mehanna, just after the jury announced its verdict.

We’ll get more from WBUR’s senior reporter, David Boeri, who was at the courthouse. Then we’ll ask two experts about the legal takeaways from the case.


  • David Boeri, senior reporter, WBUR
  • Harvey Silverglate, criminal defense and civil liberties litigator and author of “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.”
  • Glenn Sulmasy, professor of law at the US Coast Guard Academy and author of “The National Security Court System: A Natural Evolution of Justice in an Age of Terror.”

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  • Dee

    Despite Gleen Sulmacy instance that the evidence was “clear ‘against Mehanna conspiring to 
    kill American soldiers it was nothing but pure BS and it was doubly shameful that any jury 
    would accept such BS and convict a man on such fraulent charges…What Silvergate should 
    done when he found his client’s case the subject of this FBI bully technique was to give the 
    jury a brief lesson ,,,Some might have seen the light. ,,,

  • Frank

    Tarek expressed his views and did not attack America or hurt anyone, but his conviction is an attack on American freedom.

  • Frank

    There is great irony in this conviction. Recntly I spoke to a man from Turkey who said that in Turkey if one speaks out against their President, they can be put in jail, but the people can speak out against anything else. This conviction is an indication that America has become the reverse, where the people can speak out against the President with nearly absolute immunity, but if we speak out against anything else else we can be put in jail! The First Amendment has to be upheld for Tarek or we will all lose our right to speak up against anything.  

  • Jack

    At what point does a person become so
    dangerous to his community that the government has the right to
    intervene. When local children die in a suicide attack? Prevented
    consequences never carry the weight of those that come to fruition. This
    was an accident waiting to happen, and the legal system did right by
    preventing it. That aside, I have little sympathy for Mehanna’s parents
    since they undoubtedly nurtured his religious beliefs. The
    connection between religion and extremist action deserves far more
    attention that it gets in the media. Tarik Mehanna is the victim of an ignorant upbringing as are most children raised in religious families. Perhaps his parents should be on trial.

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