U.S. federal prosecutors have charged a Massachusetts man with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, alleging he and co-conspirators traveled to the Middle East seeking training, discussed attacking a shopping center, and distributed videos promoting holy war.
Tarek Mehanna, 27, from Sudbury, Massachusetts, had been previously indicted in January 2009 for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other officials in connection with a terrorism investigation, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release on Wednesday.
"Mehanna and the co-conspirators had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in a shopping mall, and that the conversations went so far as to discuss the logistics of a mall attack, including coordination, weapons needed and the possibility of attacking emergency responders," the Justice Department said, Reuters informs.
Federal prosecutors say Mehanna and his conspirators tried to get automatic weapons for a mall attack, but their plans were foiled when they could not get the weapons.
Mehanna's attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., did not immediately return calls for comment.
Mehanna was arrested last year for allegedly lying about a man who trained with al-Qaida members with the goal of overthrowing the Somali government, The Associated Press report.
Mehanna was first arrested and charged a year ago with lying to FBI agents in a terrorism investigation. "Today's arrest, done in conjunction with a search of his home, involves broader and more serious charges," Loucks said.
Mehanna and co-conspirators allegedly had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in a shopping mall, including discussions of the logistics of the mall attacks, assaulting from different entrances, obtaining the automatic weapons, and possible attacks on emergency responders.
The prosecutors alleged that members of the conspiracy traveled to Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, seeking training from various terrorist groups to fight against US soldiers, though none of them were accepted. Prosecutors also said the conspirators viewed and disseminated jihadist videos.
In December 2006, Abousamra was interviewed by the members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and within two weeks, he left for Syria and never returned, Loucks said.
Mehanna, was arrested in November 2008 at Logan International Airport as he was about to leave the country and indicted in January on charges of making false statements to investigators, Boston Globe reports.