In the early-morning hours of Oct. 21, federal authorities arrested 27-year-old Massachusetts resident Tarek Mehanna on charges that he conspired to provide material support to terrorists and planned to carry out a "violent jihad" by killing U.S. politicians, attacking American troops in Iraq and targeting customers at U.S. shopping malls. U.S. attorneys claim that Mehanna worked with two other men on various plans designed to "kill, kidnap, maim or injure" U.S. citizens and soldiers from 2001 to 2008. He will be held in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Oct. 30. If he is found guilty, Mehanna faces up to 15 years in prison.
A U.S. citizen, Mehanna is the fifth person living in the U.S. to be arrested on terrorism charges in the past five months.
Was arrested at his parents' house in Sudbury, Mass., an affluent Boston suburb.
Graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in May 2008. His father is a professor of medicinal chemistry at the school.
Had been planning to move to Saudi Arabia to become a pharmacist.
Was questioned by the FBI on Dec. 16, 2006, about Daniel J. Maldonado, a Methuen, Mass., resident who was suspected of training at a terrorist camp of al-Qaeda's and plotting to overthrow the Somali government. Maldonado later admitted to training with al-Qaeda and is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Arrested in November 2008 for statements he made during the 2006 questioning. Mehanna had claimed that Maldonado was living in Egypt and working for a website, but FBI agents recorded a phone conversation between the two men in which Maldonado urged Mehanna to join him in "training for jihad" in Somalia. Was indicted for allegedly lying to authorities in January 2009.
According to U.S. attorneys, Mehanna's current plot had two co-conspirators a man named Ahmad Abousamra and a third person, who is cooperating with authorities and has so far been unnamed. The three men met before the Sept. 11 attacks and attempted to join terrorist groups in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
A 2004 trip to Yeman proved fruitless when the men were unable to locate anyone affiliated with terrorist camps. They returned to the U.S. and allegedly plotted attacks on shopping malls. They abandoned their plans after failing to obtain automatic weapons.
Used the code terms "peanut butter and jelly" when discussing fighting in Somalia and "culinary school" for terrorist camps.
Appeared in federal court just hours after his arrest wearing a black sweatshirt and sweatpants. Witnesses say he refused to stand up at his bail hearing, kicking his chair over and making rude comments.
"When the FBI asked me where Dan was ... I told them I was still in Egypt ... and he had called me the day before from Somalia." From an unsealed FBI affidavit (Boston Globe, Nov. 12, 2008)
"I don't ever remember if he said the word Somalia on the phone, but that's a problem because, like, lying to them in and of itself is a crime." Regarding his 2008 arrest (Boston Globe, Nov. 12, 2008)
"I can only think of the countless imprisoned Muslims in the jails of tyrants around the globe and hope that if it is not Allah's Decree to free them in the near future, that they taste the sweetness that Allah has placed them in prison to taste." Letter allegedly written from prison and published on MuslimMatters.org after his 2008 arrest (Associated Press, Oct. 21, 2009)
"If this is the FBI's idea of a terrorist, they are using a net that is designed to catch minnows instead of sharks." J.W. Carney, Mehanna's lawyer, after his 2008 arrest (Boston Globe, Nov. 12, 2008)
"The killing of civilians was considered O.K. because civilians are taxpayers and are non-believers." U.S. Attorney Michael Loucks, on Mehanna's beliefs (Bloomberg, Oct. 21, 2009)
"No, definitely not." Ahmed Mehanna, father of the accused, when asked if he believed the charges filed against his son had any merit (Associated Press, Oct. 21, 2009)