A federal jury on Tuesday found Massachusetts resident Tarek Mehanna guilty on all counts in the latest homegrown terrorism conviction.
Mehanna was convicted of four terror-related charges and three charges of lying to authorities. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support to terrorists (and conspiracy to do so), conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, conspiracy to make false statements to the FBI, and two counts of making false statements.
Prosecutors say that Mehanna and two friends traveled to Yemen in 2004 to train at a terrorist camp with the ultimate goal of fighting U.S. soldiers in Iraq. After failing to find a camp, Mehanna returned to the United States where he launched his own al-Qaida "media wing," translating and distributing online publications endorsing violent jihad.
"From his travel to Yemen to receive training to kill American soldiers to his material support for terrorism at home, Mr. Mehanna's efforts to use and support violence followed no pre-defined path and knew no bounds," said Boston FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers.
Mehanna's father, Ahmed, said he was "stunned" by the verdict, which he saw as "political."
Defense attorneys and Mehanna's supporters say he was merely expressing opposition to U.S. policy, an activity protected by the First Amendment. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz rejected that argument following the verdict.
"The job of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors is to bring terrorists to justice," Ortiz told reporters. "And it is vitally important that we prevent incidences of terrorism before they happen. In this case, once the government learned that Mr. Mehanna -- of his intentions towards America, especially American soldiers, and his increasing radicalization -- to have done nothing would have been inexcusable."
Mehanna faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced April 12.