Brother Defends Terror Suspect On Facebook

The brother of a Sudbury man facing terrorism-related charges said in a message yesterday that federal investigators falsely targeted Tarek Mehanna because he refused to act as an informant for them.

In a post on a group he set up on the social networking site calling for his brother's release, Tamer Mehanna wrote that the FBI in Boston began approaching his older brother several years ago.

The FBI recognized that Mehanna, 27, is active and respected in the local Islamic community, "an individual who is intelligent, charismatic, influential and trusted by many," his brother wrote.

"Their objective was to secure Tariq as a tool to corroborate any FBI claims or accusations against members of the community that might arise, at the discretion of the FBI," Tamer wrote. "Of course, Tariq flat out refused to backstab his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, a decision that did not sit well at all with the FBI."

Investigators repeatedly approached Mehanna in the months afterward, his brother wrote, pressuring him to cooperate or "they would continue finding new ways to disrupt his life and to deprive him of a sense of security."

Mehanna was charged last year with lying to the FBI about the whereabouts of Daniel J. Maldonado, who was later convicted of training at an al Qaeda terrorist camp in Somalia. In the Facebook post, the younger brother called that charge a "weak accusation."

Mehanna had returned home for nearly a year, living quietly until his arrest before dawn on Wednesday at his parents' home, his brother wrote. He called the accusations "outright FALSE AND LUDICROUSE (sic)."

Tamer Mehanna closed by saying supporters hope his brother can receive a fair and just trial. Earlier on, he calls his brother a humble, intelligent and reflective person "with strong ethical values."

Thus far, nearly 900 people had joined Mehanna's Facebook group.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Boston did not respond to an e-mail last night for comment on the Facebook statement's claims.

SOURCE:  MetroWest Daily News

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