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Day 1: Initiation of the Trial of Tarek Mehanna

The following was written concerning the first trial day of Dr. Tarek Mehanna, held on October 27’th, 2011.


NOTE: All quotes are paraphrased. Any and all errors are unintentional.



The Trial of Tarek Mehanna

[DAY 1]










The battle lines are already drawn. Rain pouring down onto the sidewalks, protesters marching through the streets, film crews, reporters, supporters, detractors … it’s pandemonium! Even before the battle rages inside the courtroom, war drums are sounding outside. No less was expected for day four of the Tarek Mehanna trial – the day of opening statements.


Metal rails are set up in order to separate Tarek’s supporters from the small number of anti-Muslim bigots [see footnote 1] who decided to brave the rough weather. Between the two groups, Boston Police stand vigilant in the event that things get out of hand. Of course, given the fact that Tarek’s supporters outnumber the hate groups by at least 10-to-1, it’s pretty evident who’d come out on top if things got ugly. At the entrance of the building, being let in five or so at a time, a large line of Tarek’s supporters stand in the rain.


Inside the courtroom, people are struggling to find a bench. The turnout of supporters is so great, two overflow rooms are needed.  Many non-Muslims are kindly giving up their seats for Tarek’s family members. As for the Muslims in attendance, what can be said? The entire Muslim community of Worcester has come out in full force: school teachers & friends, parents & children, community leaders, men, women … they’re all here. Many members of the Boston Muslim community (including religious leaders), as well as the North & South Shore communities are here as well.  Imam Abdullah Farooq (of Masjid Alhamdulillah) & Mauri Saalakhan (Peace & Justice Foundation; outspoken activist for Muslim Prisoners) are in attendance. Also noteworthy, several supporters from out of  state have travelled to attend:


– Sally Eberhardt (who was involved in Fahad Hashimi’s case) from Philadelphia, PA

– Sharmin Sadequee (Shifa Sadequee’s sister) from Michigan


There are also supporters from Washington, D.C., and New York City. Simply amazing!


The American prosecutors are compulsively restless as usual. Atty. Aloke Chakravarty – sporting a dark suit, pressed blue shirt, and blood-red tie, strokes his chin off and on for the 1.5 hours leading up to the start of the session. Beside him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn – draped in his trademark charcoal suit, and black tie with broad gray stripes and his iconic loafers, can be seen continuously licking his lips (to the annoyance of anyone watching). At one point he breaks his path of oscillation, entering the courtroom this time with a broad smile on his face.  Unlike the prosecution team, defense lawyers (Attys. J.W. Carney, Janice Bassil, Sejal Patel, and John Oh) are seated at their desks, discussing matters quietly.


At 10:00AM, Tarek enters the courtroom; his dark suit contrasts sharply with his pistachio shirt and olive tie.  With the entire courtroom so silent you could hear a pin drop, Tarek seats himself, takes Carney’s outstretched hand in a firm grasp and shakes it.  Minutes later, Tarek turns to face his audience and blows kisses to his family, with generous waves for supporters. A man and a woman then enter the courtroom and hand Auerhahn a manilla folder. He quietly tells them, “… not supposed to see folder when people …“, and both individuals quickly exit the courtroom.


The Jury (and their alternates) enter at 10:22AM, and Judge O’Toole immediately asks for a sidebar with the lawyers. After 35 minutes, about 23 jurors are replaced, and a break is called. Upon returning to the courtroom, attendees are greeted by a large white poster board which apparently American prosecutors have prepared for their opening statements. Pasted to it, the five faces of Muslim men are found. It’s unclear from a distance who the men are, but two of the faces are believed to be Daniel Maldonado [see footnote 2], and Ahmad Abou-Samra [see footnote 3].


At 11:25AM, the judge offers the jury a quick overview of Tarek’s charges, and the opening statements begin. Aloke Chakravarty is first at bat:


Ten years ago, Osama bin Laden issued a call to arms – he wanted Muslims around the world to stand up and fight Americans and their allies.


His voice is loud and emphatic,


His solution was something called Jīhad! This case is about how THIS MAN …


Firmly pointing to Tarek as if he was casting him out of heaven,


… answered that call!


He continues,


The defendant got on a plane and went to Yemen for training … preparing to go to Iraq. This happened on Super Bowl Sunday.


The same way Osama Bin Laden issued a call over the internet, the defendant kept the message alive.


You’re going to hear how he translated complex Arabic. This translation was a service to Al-Qaeda. He knew what he was doing. As soon as he realized that, it became a crime.


He worked with people primarily over the internet, but he also worked with people he knew in Massachusetts.


He LIED to the F.B.I. about his intentions in Yemen … he spread propaganda to encourage others to fight in Iraq & Afghanistan.


His first lie came in the form of a cover story. He said he tried to go to some type of school in Yemen. His second lie was when the F.B.I. asked him if he knew where Daniel Maldonado was. He said he was in Egypt running a website, when actually he had actually called him from Somalia. IT WAS THEN, THAT THE F.B.I UNCOVERED THE CONSPIRACY!


This case will focus on his intention … what was he thinking … what were his co-conspirators thinking … what was he reading … what he was watching …


It’s illegal to watch something to cultivate an intention to commit a crime.


Raising a picture of Tarek at ground zero with his finger pointed up as a testimony of faith,


We’re not appealing to your sympathies … this is a court of law.


One thing you’ll see is the result of a court ordered search of his room, done when his family went on vacation to Egypt … and they [the F.B.I.] put everything in place so the defendant wouldn’t know.


Chakravarty puts up a display presenting various symbols of Al-Qaeda [see footnote 4].


They found a treasure trove … you’ll see lots of Jīhadist propaganda.


The F.B.I also obtained the rights to intercept the defendants e-mails … He [Tarek] was afraid of what they might find.


You are the judges of the facts …


You’ll hear about the activity he did on the net. One website you’ll hear about is Tibyan Publications …” [see footnote 5]


You’ll also hear about Jīhadi publications such as ‘The Expedition of Umar Hadid,” [see footnote 6]


<video excerpts are played>


[First Track: Arabic Vocal Music]

يا عابد الحرمين لو أبصرتنا … لعلمت أنك في العبادة تلعب

[Translation: via transcriber]

{Oh worshipper at the two holy sites, if you saw us … You would have known your worship is only play}

[Second Track: Arabic Vocal Music]

يا حواري الخلود…قد أتاك الشهيد

[Translation: via transcriber]

{Oh maidens of immortality … The Martyr has come to you}

[Osama Bin Laden video from ‘State of Ummah’ series]


<video excerpts are halted>


He viewed himself as part of the media wing of Al-Qaeda


You’ll also see evidence from the U.K … defendants from the U.K. received communications directly from Al-Qaeda in Iraq.


You’ll also hear about ‘The Cloud People’ . Doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider the media department of Al-Qaeda is called ‘As-Sahab’, which in Arabic means ‘the clouds’, then it starts to mean something. They asked him to translate something directly from Ayman Al-Zawahiri [see footnote 7]: ‘A Message to the People of Pakistan.”


“You’ll hear bugged phone calls … you’ll hear recordings from his friend who agreed to wear a recording device. You won’t be able to make out much …


And he goes on, and on, and on … it’s unimaginable that American tax dollars paid for all this. He goes on to discuss the trip Tarek took to Yemen with his friends. How Kareem Abu-Zahra [see footnote 8] initially said he planned to tour schools with Tarek in Yemen, but following repeated questioning, secured legal counsel and demanded immunity. In exchange for his cooperation, he wore a bug (or microphone) and recorded his conversations with Tarek.


Chakravarty then draws the jury’s attention to the display of five Muslim men,


His personally selected associates …


We hear how they all grew up in the Suburbs of Boston, and secretly planned to attack the U.S. and its allies,


After the call to arms by Osama Bin Laden, they decided to do something. MUSLIMS WERE DYING AROUND THE WORLD!


Abou-Samra went to Pakistan after getting information from Hassan Masood [see footnote 9]. There he met someone named Abdul-Magid. We won’t hear from Abou-Samra because after the F.B.I. spoke to him, he fled to Syria.


In 2003, he [Tarek] considered attacking a shopping mall & Hanscom Airforce Base.


We’re then told about how Tarek tried to brainwash the youth in the Boston area, such as Ali Aboubakr [see footnote 10] and Daniel Spaulding [see footnote 11]. Once again, emphatically pointing towards Tarek, Chakravarty bellows,


I submit to you, at the end of this case, the defendant won’t be sitting here … he won’t, because he’ll be guilty!


Chakravarty seats himself, and following a 57 minute break, J.W. Carney stands to open for the defense team.


We knew this would be a challenging case … all the Arabic names and words. I’d be lying if I said I had them all down. When we saw the charges, they were scary. When you read someone is trying to kill you … but then we met him. We Spoke to him. We met his parents. We read out constitution …


His words are meaningful, but they feel like a ‘bunt’ compared to the cracking ‘homerun’ Chakravarty opened with. He continues,


Let me tell you a little about him. He was born in the U.S. His parents were born in Egypt. They’re Muslim. The came here because they wanted to practice their religion and speak freely.


I know the government has lots of pictures and diagrams. We too have pictures. I asked his mom to give me some …


<photos of Tarek are shown>


[Young Tarek sitting on Santa’s lap]

[Young Tarek playing baseball]

[A school photo of a chubby teenage Tarek wearing glasses]


<audience laughs>


[An adult Tarek in a black dress shirt and silver tie seated beside his mother]


<photos end>


He tried to learn more about his religion. He got together with friends at his mosque, played basketball, then went to a local pizzeria for some pizza. They’d talk about the problems they faced as Muslim teens: How are you supposed to marry someone when you can’t even date a girl?


He would buy texts regarding Islam and talk about them, like others do with the Bible or Torah. HE TRANSLATED 15’th CENTURY ISLAAMIC TEXTS!


He became aware of how Muslims have been oppressed in the past. For example, the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan – a predominantly Muslim country, and their subsequent expulsion.


And he continues detailing the modern history of the Muslim nation. The audience hears about Bosnia, and how the Muslims there faced extermination through genocide. They hear about Chechnya, and how the Soviet Union would demolish their villages, for no other reason except that they professed the Islaamic faith.


As Tarek was learning about this, he was learning about his own heritage.


When 9/11 happened, he was shocked and confused. Why would Muslims commit such an action? When the United States entered Afghanistan, he understood why. That’s where the planning for the operation took place. But when the United States entered Iraq, he couldn’t understand that, and believed they should leave …


“… Tarek was outspoken about it. He sent e-mails, instant messages, he posted on forums. He believed Muslims in Iraq had a right to expel the U.S. in any way possible. In my time … many people believed the same about Vietnam. You can say ‘we love America, but we don’t belong in Iraq.’


Tarek planned to move to a Muslim country after graduation, and continue his studies of classical Arabic & Islaamic law. He was studying classical Arabic almost every day. You’ll see a photo of his room … tall bookcases with 15 volume books. He was known amongst almost everyone as a scholar.


Yemen is known for two things: Studying ‘pure’ Arabic, and Islaamic Law”


“It was Abou-Samra and Abu-Zahra who wanted to go for terrorist training, then to Iraq, not Tarek.”


“[In Yemen] Tarek toured three schools, and spoke to teachers. Abou-Samra, was looking for military camps. There were none at the time. You’re going to hear from the foremost expert on Yemen testify as much. He’s spent years of his life in the country; he speaks the language. He’s now at Princeton, and will join us shortly.”


“Abou-Samra then went to Jordan, then Iraq, and tried to fight.”


Tarek expressed his views independent of Al-Qaeda … The Government will try to say he did these things secretly. His postings on internet forums show that he did them openly.


Tarek was not shy about his views. Yes, he admired Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden was a billionaire in Saudi Arabia who gave up everything to support Afghans & expel the Soviets … Ronald Reagan praised the Mujahidin as ‘Freedom Fighters’


Tarek was not shy about his beliefs, he wore them on his sleeve.


He was upset when news came out about U.S. soldiers raping a 14 yr. old Iraqi girl. He was upset at what happened at Abu Ghraib.


“What did Libya do when the revolution first broke out? They shut off the internet. What does China do to prevent its citizens from reading about Democracy? It censors the internet … We shouldn’t be afraid to read what the other side says!”


Tarek was asked to translate a document for Al-Qaeda, BUT HE REFUSED. When someone brought up the idea of a shopping mall shooting, his response was, ‘Oh come on, that’s ridiculous!’ 


All the witnesses who cooperated with the F.B.I. NOW HAVE IMMUNITY.


Tarek planned to move to Saudi Arabia after he completed his studies. The only country Al-Qaeda hates more than the U.S. and Israel is Saudi Arabia.


The government will tell you that Tarek was an administrator on At-Tibyan forums. Well, here’s the rest of the story … HE GOT KICKED OFF FOR BEING TOO ‘MODERATE’! “


“As Americans we have the right to hold these beliefs, and speak them …”


And with that, the defense ends its opening statements, and the judge calls for a recess. Typically at this point, you’d find Tarek’s brother comforting his mother as she weeps. Not today. Today, the Mehanna family came out in full confidence. No tears, no sobs. They had the backing of American Muslims nationwide, and a Lord high above them hearing their prayers. You could see it in their eyes: today was the first day towards Tarek’s freedom.


10.21.09 … never forget … never surrender!


[1] American’s for Peace & Tolerance, ACTBoston, and Voice of the Copts


[2] Daniel Maldonado: Friend of Tarek Mehanna. An American Muslim who migrated to Egypt, then Somalia while it was still governed by the Islamic Courts Union. After the passing of his wife due to malaria, war broke out in Somalia following the intervention of American and African Union forces. Both him, along with his two young children, were subsequently captured in the ensuing frenzy, and were flown back to America to face terrorism charges. He is currently being held in 23 hour isolation. It is believed that American officials have pressured him to testify against Tarek, under the threat of never seeing his children again.


[3] Ahmad Abou-Samra: Friend of Tarek who accompanied him on his trip to Yemen. An American Muslim (of Syrian heritage), and graduate of UMASS-Boston with a degree in Computer Science. Fearing for his family’s safety, he fled to the Arab Republic of Syria following F.B.I. harassment. He is listed as Tarek’s co-defendent.


[4] Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq (circa 2006), Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the national flag of the Islamic State of Iraq, etc.


[5] A now defunct British publishing house & web forum where translators from across the globe collaborated in translating classical Islaamic literature from Arabic to English.


[6] ‘The Expedition of Umar Hadid’: The flagship production of the now defunct British publishing house & web forum At-Tibyan Publications. It purportedly chronicles the Battle of Fallujah (2004), and life of Omar Hussein Hadid – the field commander of 4,000 Sunni resistance fighters in Iraq during the second assault by 15,000 American & Shi’ite forces on Fallujah. U.S. prosecutors allege that Tariq provided Arabic translation services for the subtitles to the documentary.


[7] Egyptian Surgeon and academic who currently serves as the leader of Al-Qaeda.


[8] Kareem Abu-Zahra: Friend of Tarek. An American Muslim (of Jordanian heritage) and graduate of UMASS-Lowell with a Masters in Computer Science. Due to a family illness, he never arrived in Yemen, and returned to the U.S. from the U.A.E. Following family pressure, and being granted immunity by the American government, he agreed to act as a government witness against Tarek.


[9] Hassan Masood: Friend of Tarek; son of Imam Muhammad Masood [see: http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x1284621194%5D. A Muslim from Pakistan, it is believed American officials threatened him with prison time or deportation if he refused to act as a witness for the government against Tarek.


[10] Ali Aboubakr: Prior to agreement to collaborate as a government cooperating witness, Ali was a friend of Tarek’s. An American Muslim (of Egyptian heritage) and graduate of UMASS-Boston. Following threats of prison time by American officials, he is scheduled to testify on behalf of the U.S. Government against Tarek. The F.B.I. has ordered him not to travel prior to the conclusion of the trial.


[11] Daniel Spaulding: Friend of Tarek. A Muslim revert with a B.S. in the English language. On internet forums, he operated under the handle ‘Brother Mujahid’. Following threats of prison time by American officials, he apostatized from the Islamic faith, and is believed to have enlisted in the U.S. Military. Although not explicitly mentioned, it is understood that he is scheduled to testify on behalf of the U.S. Government against Tarek.


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