Tarek Mehanna, 31, was a pharmaceutical student at a Massachusetts college where his father worked as a professor, and lived with his parents in upscale Sudbury where his mother ran a state-licensed day care center out of her home. He was convicted in 2012 of supporting al Qaeda and conspiring to kill Americans. Before that, Mehanna had visited the Cambridge center for prayers and lectures, in addition to visiting mosques in other parts of the state, Vali said.
After the Boston bombing, investigators found a Tarek Mehanna prayer card tucked into a Russian dictionary in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Cambridge apartment, according to court documents.
Mehanna’s alleged accomplice, Ahmad Abousamra, also occasionally prayed at the Cambridge mosque. He had graduated from the prestigious Catholic high school Xavier with honors and his father, Dr. Abdul Abousamra, was a respected endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to Detroit and was the President of The Islamic Center of New England, according to The Boston Globe.
After being interviewed by agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Abousamra was able to slip out of the country in 2006, according to the bureau. He was indicted in 2009 and last December he was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List with a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Perhaps most controversial of the group, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui also prayed at the Prospect Street mosque while she earned a scientific doctorate degree at MIT. She eventually moved overseas with her husband and two children. She was detained in 2008 after Afghan officials found her in possession of handwritten notes that referred to a “mass casualty attack” along with a specific list of targets like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
As military intelligence officials and FBI agents questioned her at a police compound in Afghanistan, prosecutors said, she grabbed an assault rifle from a U.S. serviceman and opened fire on her interrogators while saying “Death to America,” according to the reported testimony of witnesses. No one was killed in the sudden attack. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 on federal terrorism charges and sentenced to 86 years in prison.
Director Vali insisted that all were “infrequent” worshippers at the Cambridge center, as were the Tsarnaev brothers, and they also worshipped at other mosques. Their affiliation with the Islamic Society of Boston should not cast aspersions on either the Cambridge center or the larger Roxbury mosque, where some 1,200 worship every week, Vali said.
“When the [Boston] bombings happened initially, like most Bostonians, we were all traumatized and scared. We were devastated that these people were part of city and part of our mosque,” he said.
The mosque was also where Matanov met Ibragim Todashev, a suspect in a mysterious triple murder elsewhere in Massachusetts, the FBI report says.
On Sept. 11, 2011, the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the bodies of three young men were discovered with their throats slit and covered in marijuana in a home in Waltham, Mass.