The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter defended convicted terrorist Tarek Mehanna Tuesday, arguing his actions in a plot to kill American troops are akin to a report of American military training for a radical Iranian opposition group.
Mehanna was sentenced in April to 17½ years in federal prison after being convicted of conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida, conspiracy to murder in a foreign country, lying to the FBI and providing material support to terrorists. The charges stem from a plot to kill American soldiers overseas.
To CAIR-Chicago, it's another example of law enforcement's unjust treatment of American Muslims, In an article by an intern posted on its website and distributed to its email list, CAIR cast Mehanna as a victim of FBI surveillance and harassment who was simply exercising his right of free speech.
He launched his own al-Qaida "media wing" espousing violent jihad and published translations of al-Qaida materials including 39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad and the Expedition of Umar Hadid.
"So were Mehanna's online posts 'material support for terrorism' or was he just using his first amendment right to voice his opinions?" the article asks. "Mehanna was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison, and it's suspect that his being Muslim had something to do with his indictment."
To accept the argument would mean the jury and presiding judge were duped. After Mehanna made a statement comparing his support for jihad against American troops to American revolutionaries fighting the British, U.S. District Court Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. said he was "frankly concerned by the defendant's apparent absence of remorse."
In an equally perplexing comparison, the CAIR article equates Mehanna's material support to terrorism with a New Yorker report about military training the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) received in 2005 by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). MeK opposed the Iranian government, but is a designated foreign terrorist organization.
"So why are individuals (even within government and media) that are directly supporting terrorists by training and aiding this group not being reprimanded for their actions?...People that are a part of the J.S.O.C. are directly affiliated with the training of MEK they should be subject to the same circumstances as anyone else accused of material support to terrorism."
CAIR -Chicago attempts to draw a moral equivalence between Mehanna's guilty verdict and an uncorroborated claim that JSOC trained MeK operatives fighting to topple one of the regimes posing the greatest threat to peace.
CAIR is not the only Muslim American organization to defend Mehanna. In April, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) reposted a Guardian article on their Facebook and Twitter accounts titled, "Tarek Mehanna: Punished for Speaking Truth to Power."