Muslim demonstrator
Muslim demonstrator Israel news photo

The arrest of a Massachusetts teacher of religion in a Muslim school for planning mass murders at malls and targeting American soldiers overseas has caused shock throughout the US. The suspect, an Egyptian-American named Tarek Mehanna, was arraigned in court Wednesday.


He was arrested and charged last year for lying about his ties with Daniel Maldonado, a Muslim convert who wanted to join al-Qaeda in Somalia. Prosecutors said that Mehanna also intended to kill, maim or kidnap two senior executives in the White House, both of whom no longer are in office. No other details of the targets were released except that they never were in any danger.


One of his co-conspirators is an American now living in Syria.


Disclosure of his plans follows by one month the arrest in Texas of a Jordanian teenager who plotted to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. An American court recently indicted an American resident of Afghan descent for planning a chemical bomb attack.


An ordinary guy

area newspapers and the Associated Press quoted friends of Mehanna that was an ordinary American who never could be imagined to be a terrorist. His father said he did not believe his son was guilty.


Two weeks ago, FBI Director Robert Mueller warned, "These cases illustrate not only the threats, but the challenges presented by the self-radicalized, homegrown extremist. For the last several years, we have picked up intelligence that al-Qaeda has made a concerted effort to recruit Europeans and Westerners understanding that they can fly under the radar in terms of passing through border controls.”


A New York Daily News editorial warned Thursday morning, “Violent Islamic extremism has begun to thrive in the nurturing soil of our free and open society.”


Muslims complain

Muslim leaders and the Muslim man-on-the-street have expressed fears of a backlash and have argued that Muslim terrorists are a minority and are not a product of Islam. Mainstream Muslims feel threatened. "Being a Muslim in America today is not easy," Dallas businessman Hadi Jawad, told the Dallas Morning News. "We feel under siege. There is open season on our faith. Muslims are painted with a broad brush."  


He added that there is a good side to the backlash. "It might rest on the Muslim community to reach out ... to show that we are just as average and just as mundane as everyone else," Jawad said. "We have the same aspirations, to get a good education, to take care of the poor and needy. The same issues that everyone else has, we have."


A close friend of the Jordanian who was arrested for plotting to blow up the skyscraper commented, “I don't think everybody is going to turn out to be a terrorist. I just really don't want to be friends with someone that tried to kill thousands of people. And I don't care what religion they are."

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