The government has implied that Tarek was involved in translating and producing a number of videos for Al=Qaeda (Proffer, pp. 17–25). In fact, the single act that the government actually alleges Tarek performed was to provide English subtitles for part of one video (Proffer, p. 18).
The government alleged that Tarek “was involved in translating and distributing other videos. . . .” (Proffer, p. 22). As evidence, the government cites instant messages in which a correspondent suggests that Tarek work on two other videos. Tarek, however, never performed any work on these videos.
The instant messages reveal that Tarek’s so called “distribution” of audio and video files consisted of pasting links to Internet sites where these files were located. These sites include popular Islam-oriented sites as well as popular sites such as myspace.com, cnn.com, bbc.co.uk, and news.yahoo.com.
Tarek never accessed the forums where Al-Qaeda was known to post videos and statements. The United States Senate Committee report referenced above states that there are a number of “pre-approved web forums like al-Ekhlass, al-Hesbah, al-Burq, or al-Firdaws that include some of the most exclusive violent Islamist websites–where access is tightly controlled,” (Id. at page 6).
Recognizing the Importance of Their Efforts
The government alleged that Tarek knew his “work” was so important that he wouldn’t stop doing it, even though the Egyptian Intelligence Service had questioned his family overseas about him (Proffer, pp. 25–26). Although Tarek was, in fact, aware that the FBI and Egyptian officials made inquiries about him, he continued messaging and emailing with correspondents and posting on forums because, as he stated at every turn, he had done nothing wrong.
The government acknowledged that when Tarek learned of law enforcement’s interest in him in 2006, he did not alter his conduct. Despite their current claims that Tarek has been a danger to the community as far back as 2004 (when he traveled to Yemen to, the government claims, attend a terrorist training camp), the government left him untouched for over two years. During that time, the government left him free to interact with the public, to work at hospitals and pharmacies, to attend school surrounded by thousands of fellow students at his college, to teach grade school children, and significantly to board domestic and international flights. He was arrested only when he was leaving the country for legitimate employment abroad. This was reflected at his first detention hearing in 2008, when the government never argued he was a danger to the community. Their evidence and their confidential informants existed in 2006, long before his first arrest and subsequent detention hearing. Tarek’s response to his awareness of government scrutiny points also to his lack of intent to flee. Instead of running, he stayed put, consulted a lawyer, and lived the life he always had, even though he had been told he would be charged with the same charges he now faces today.