Admiration for al-Qaida Leadership and Their Acts

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The government alleged that Tarek demonstrated his admiration for Al-Qaeda’s leadership and their acts by pointing to still images that were found on Tarek’s computer and off-color jokes Tarek allegedly exchanged with correspondents about events in Iraq.

For example, the government alleged that Tarek’s computer contained two still images of the beheading of Nicholas Berg, a contractor who was killed in Iraq (Proffer, p. 28).  Tarek did not download these images, and never intended to do so.  A forensic computer expert has reviewed these images and has filed an affidavit attached to this motion.  He was able to determine that the images were not downloaded by Tarek.  One image was in a deleted state, located in a Firefox cache folder…

“Web-browsing programs such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Netscape Navigator are generally configured to automatically save parts of visited web pages, including pictures on those pages, in a directory on the user’s hard drive known as a “cache.”  Such “caching” of files is a technical feature that speeds up web browsing, and it occurs without any user intervention, and often without the user’s knowledge,” [U.S. v. Cain, No. 0:08-CR-0036, 2008 WL 5382005 at *2 (D.Minn. Nov. 18, 2008)].  Indictments for possession of child pornography have been dismissed when it was determined that the images existed in defendants’ cached space.  Because they were cached, and not downloaded, the government had been unable to prove that the images were knowingly or willfully possessed.  U.S. v. Stulock, 308 F.3d 922 (8th Cir. 2002); U.S. v. Johnson, 2006 WL 2548913 *3 (N.D. Iowa).


…the result of the defendant’s computer automatically saving the picture from web browsing.  The other picture was found in an icon folder of the defendant’s instant messaging application (Trillian).  This picture was saved during teh normal course of using Trillian and was not the result of the defendant deliberately saving the file onto his computer.

However, the images ended up on Tarek Mehanna’s computer, hundreds of other photos found on the computer reveal the true course of Tarek Mehanna’s life.  These images include the following:

  • An image of a flyer, “terrorist suicide bombers:  perpetrators of evil”;
  • Photograph of Vladimir Putin;
  • Photograph of the character Kevin from the television show, The Office;
  • Photograph of a dog riding a bicycle;
  • Boston Red Sox logo;
  • Photograph of Mel Gibson;
  • Photograph of Maria Sharapova;
  • Photograph of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie;
  • Countless images of Arabic text banner ads (commercial advertisements posted on websites to bring in revenue for the websites);
  • Many images of Arab and Muslim men, some wearing traditional grab, some wearing suits;
  • Photograph of a major league baseball player;
  • Photograph of President Bush
  • Photograph of rescuers in a flood;
  • Photograph of men in a demolished building;
  • Photograph of Osama bin Laden;
  • Photograph of U.S. flag and Capitol Building;
  • Photograph of Paris Hilton;
  • Photograph of tanks and an explosion, “another day in the empire”
  • Countless images of Arabic books;
  • Photograph of an Arabic cookbook;
  • Photograph of Jessica Alba;
  • Photograph of a missile or rocket;
  • Photograph of an F-15;
  • Photograph of the 2006 Italian World Cup soccer team;
  • Photograph of a monkey in a shirt and tie;
  • Image of the cover of Enemy Aliens, a book by Georgetown Law Center professor David Cole;
  • Photograph of Queen Elizabeth;
  • Photograph of explosion, “Gaza violence”;
  • Photograph of Saddam Hussein on trial;
  • Photograph of basketball player Dwayne Wade;
  • Humorous photo of a cartoon camel falling into a New York City street, with a caption, “A New Wave of Terror Hits NY”;
  • Photograph of Tarek Mehanna’s father in his younger years;
  • Photograph of cowboy boots and an American flag beside the Vietnam Memorial;
  • Photograph of a funeral in the Middle East;
  • Countless screenshots from online video games World of Warcraft and Eve Online;
  • Countless banner ads and spam images.


Tarek never intended to download spam, photos of celebrities, or screen shots from video games onto his computer.  Similarly, when he was visiting news sites, he never intended to download photographs of President Bush, Abu Mu’sab al-Zarkawi, Ayman Zawahiri, or Nicholas Berg.



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