“Terrorism” conviction for translating agitprop

The Reuters account on the latest highly specious “terrorism” conviction—of US citizen Tarek Mehanna—predictably leads with a sentence that portrays providential federal action against an imminent threat: “A jury on Tuesday found a Massachusetts man guilty of conspiring to support al Qaeda by translating Arabic messages and traveling to Yemen for terrorism training.” You have to read several paragraphs in to find out that things weren’t nearly so dire. Prosecutors “said he traveled to Yemen in 2004 to seek terrorism training, but never received it, and had planned to travel to Iraq to fight US troops.” Emphasis added. Did you catch that? He never actually received any terrorism training. And that translation of “Arabic messages”—secret documents containing orders to launch an attack? Nope. Prosecutors “said he translated videos and texts from Arabic to English and distributed them online to further al Qaeda’s cause.” In other words, propaganda videos. Is this what constitutes “providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists” these days? And can anyone explain to us why this does not violate the First Amendment?

See our last posts on al-Qaeda and specious terrorism cases.

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