The government alleges that Tarek Mehanna was part of Al-Qaeda’s media wing. Its evidence for this is nothing more than ambiguous statements made not by Tarek, but a correspondent in instant messages (Proffer, p. 15). The government never alleged Tarek’s participation in any violent acts, but instead argued the potential impact of his translation, posted publicly on the Internet (Proffer, p. 15).
The government supports its allegation of Tarek’s association with Al-Qaeda through an instant message in which, once again, someone other than Tarek tells Tarek that “one guy [in an online forum] said. . . we are aqs in raafidayn [Al Qaeda in Iraq]. . .media wing,” (Proffer, p. 15). In essence, the government relies on a boastful comment made by someone online who has never met or spoken with the defendant as evidence of the truth of that comment. There is no response by Tarek agreeing with this and no evidence that these bloggers had contact or direction from any member of Al-Qaeda. this patent unreliability is the quintessential example of why hearsay is inadmissible.
In a report filed by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, entitled “Violent Islamist Extremism the Internet and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat,” May 8, 2008, the Committee stated that al-Qaeda maintains its own on-line media operations using clearinghouses, icons, and logs that ensure a message’s authenticity and strictly control the message transmitted. At no time has the government presented any evidence that Tarek’s alleged translations were sought by, contracted for or approved of by al-Qaeda.
Aware that these statements are unreliable, the government accused Tarek of wanting to inspire an “armed wing,” (Proffer, p. 17). Its only evidence is a conversation that supposedly took place between two others, neither of whom is Tarek. An online correspondent told Tarek Mehanna of his conversation with another, saying “me and khubayb. . .were talking about we just need. . .armed. . .wing now hehe,” (Proffer, p. 17). Instead of “inspiring” an armed wing, the correspondent’s comment suggests that he wanted to start an armed wing of his own. In any case, his final comment, “hehe,” indicates the fact that he offers this statement as a joke. The fact that Tarek did not respond to this statement amplifies the fact that they both knew it was a joke and not worth a response.