- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

UPDATED:

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they have arrested a Massachusetts man in connection with terrorist plots that included attacks on U.S. shopping malls and on two White House officials.

The suspect has been identified as Tarek Mehanna, 27, of Sudbury, Mass. He has been charged in connection with plotting with other terrorists from 2001 to May 2008 to carry out overseas and domestic terrorist attacks, which included killing shoppers and first responders at malls. However, none of the attacks was carried out because the conspirators could not obtain automatic weapons.

Michael K. Loucks, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a press conference in Boston that Mr. Mehanna also had tried unsuccessfully to join a terrorist training camp in Yemen, had planned to “fight and kill” American soldiers in Iraq and had been involved in Jihadist propaganda films.

Mr. Loucks said Mr. Mehanna had been arrested about a year earlier on less serious charges and was out on bail.

Mr. Mehanna was arrested in November 2008 for allegedly lying to authorities about the whereabouts of a man who trained with al Qaeda members with the goal of overthrowing the Somali government, according to the Associated Press.

Mr. Loucks said neither of the White House officials faced any danger.

Neither Mr. Mehanna nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Mr. Loucks said Mr. Mehanna was arrested the first time while attempting to board a plane at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The Boston Globe reported last year that Mr. Mehanna is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and was leaving to start an overseas job.

The paper said he was charged with lying to the FBI in December 2006 about the whereabouts and activities of Daniel J. Maldonado, then suspected of training at an al Qaeda terrorist camp to overthrow the Somali government.

The Globe said Mr. Mehanna told agents that he had known Maldonado for several years and had spoken with him two weeks earlier and that Maldonado was living in Egypt.

However, Maldonado — a U.S. citizen who converted to Islam — had placed several calls from Somalia to the Sudbury home of Mr. Mehanna’s parents several days before the FBI interview, urging him to join the training for jihad.

Maldonado was arrested in January 2007. He pleaded guilty in a Houston federal court to charges of receiving training at a terrorist camp in Somalia alongside al Qaeda members and is serving a 10-year prison term.

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