A man who cooperated in an FBI terrorism investigation in Massachusetts was sentenced to probation Thursday after pleading guilty to a weapons charge.
Bilaal McCloud, 54, of Roxbury started cooperating with investigators after his 2005 indictment for illegally possessing a semiautomatic pistol and ammunition. He is credited with helping build the case that led to terrorism charges against Tarek Mehanna, 27, of Sudbury, and 28-year-old Ahmad Abousamra, formerly of Mansfield, the Boston Globe reported.
In October, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts announced that Mehanna had been charged in a complaint with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. A press release explained that from 2001 through May 2008, "Mehanna conspired with Ahmad Abousamra, and others to provide material support and resources for use in carrying out a conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country."
In addition, Mehanna and his co-conspirators "discussed their desire to participate in violent jihad against American interests and that they would talk about fighting jihad and their desire to die on the battlefield."
According to an affidavit in the case signed by FBI Special Agent Heidi Williams, Mehanna and Abousamra had discussions about assassinating members of the executive branch of the U.S. government. Mehanna and Abousamra, inspired by the snipers who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area in 2002, discussed obtaining automatic weapons, going to a shopping mall and randomly shooting people.
According to Williams' affidavit, Mehanna traveled to Pakistan and Yemen in unsuccessful attempts to find a terrorist training camp and engage in jihad. A search of his computer revealed that Mehanna translated and distributed Al Qaeda propaganda materials and numerous jihadist videos. These included videos of Mehanna joking about a remote-control bomb attack against U.S. soldiers and a picture of Mehanna and others posing at the former site of the World Trade Center.
The computer included a picture showing Mehanna and others at the Ground Zero construction site "with large grins and Mehanna has one finger pointed up in the air," the affidavit says.
Mehanna remains in jail awaiting trial. Abousamra disappeared in 2007 and is believed to be outside the United States.