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The Jihadist as Civil Rights Hero, cont.

3:12 PM, Oct 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Occupybostonglobe.com has photos of "A flash mob, calling for the release of Tarek Mehanna, Downtown Boston, MA, on Sunday, Oct. 09, 2011. Mehanna is a prisoner, held with out bail, awaiting trial since 2008." Here's a screen grab of the mob:

Sohrab Ahmari explained Tarek Mehanna and his supporters in a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD:

Mehanna’s supporters have launched a relatively sophisticated campaign portraying him as a misunderstood, moderate Muslim dissident. And yet the “Free Tarek” initiative reaches far beyond Boston’s Muslim community. A YouTube video on the “Free Tarek” website, for example, features the Rev. Jason Lydon, a Unitarian minister and LGBT rights advocate, telling local reporters that Mehanna “is a man who expresses love of his faith and a deep commitment to justice.” He is “a known moderate in his political views [who] consistently demonstrates his peaceful response to conflict.” 

Moreover, by branding Mehanna as a rights crusader, his supporters also seek backing from Boston’s African-American community. At the Northeastern event speakers drew a straight line between the black community’s valiant struggles against American apartheid in the 1960s and Mehanna’s struggle against the U.S. government’s “anti-Muslim agenda” today.

Mehanna has embraced the role of the intrepid civil rights hero—his website’s banner carries Dr. King’s warning that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” But the massive evidentiary arsenal that law enforcement agents have amassed against him paints an entirely different picture of Tarek Mehanna. It offers a fascinating psychological portrait of an Islamist undergoing an almost decade-long process of radicalization. And yet the real story here is not about the making of a homegrown Islamist militant. Rather, it’s about his supporters’ use of the well-worn lexicon of identity politics to turn a young man who is seething with hatred, sexually frustrated, and profoundly alienated from his own family into a standard-bearer for racial justice and a model American Muslim. He is neither.

Born in Pittsburgh to an Egyptian-American family, Tarek Mehanna was raised in Sudbury, an affluent suburb some 25 miles west of Boston. His father, Ahmed Mehanna, is a professor of medicinal chemistry at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health, where Tarek obtained a doctorate in pharmacy. U.S. attorneys allege that Mehanna started absorbing radical Islamist ideology as early as 2001 and began on the path of ideological jihad before eventually attempting to wage physical jihad. Mehanna’s Internet footprint and hours of recorded conversations with alleged co-conspirators and associates tend to support this theory. 

Whole thing here.

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