BOSTON — A Massachusetts man accused of taking part in a terror plot to kill Americans is seeking bail.
Sudbury resident Tarek Mehanna has been held without bail for 16 months on charges that include conspiring with two other men to kill American troops in Iraq and of plotting to assassinate two unnamed US politicians and to shoot shoppers at a mall in the United States.
Outside the courthouse, dozens of supporters chanted and held signs saying “Free Tarek Mehanna." The group’s spokesperson, Reverend Jason Lydon, described Mehanna as a peaceful man.
"Dr. Mehanna is a known moderate in his political views. He is a man who expresses love of his faith and deep commitment to justice," Lydon said.
But prosecutors paint a different picture. They say Mehanna is a flight risk and a danger to the community, who only abandoned his alleged plans because he couldn’t procure automatic weapons.
Mehanna's lawyers argue the case against their client is "paper thin." Defense attorney Janice Bassil says the case is built on a series of instant messages and emails that are inflammatory but not criminal.
“These are words. The government got up and talked about something he translated – the 39 Ways to Jihad – but these are words. We don’t lock people up for words in this country,” Bassil said.
The judge didn’t rule right away on whether to grant bail. His decision is expected in the coming weeks.
The trial will begin in October.