A Massachusetts man and two friends tried and failed to get into terrorist training camps and then plotted to kill two prominent U.S. politicians and randomly shoot people at American shopping malls, authorities said Wednesday.
Tarek Mehanna, who recently taught at a Muslim school in Worcester, was arrested early Wednesday at his parents’ suburban Boston home. Mehanna was charged with conspiring with two other men — an American now in Syria and another man who is cooperating with authorities — to provide support to terrorists.
Ultimately, the trio never came close to pulling off an attack. Authorities say they never got the terrorist training they sought — that the men told friends they were turned down because of their nationality, ethnicity or inexperience, or that the people they’d hoped would get them into such camps were either in jail or on a religious pilgrimage.
The men abandoned the mall attack plans after their weapons contact said he could find only handguns, not automatic weapons.
The men used code words such as “peanut butter and jelly” for fighting in Somalia and “culinary school” for terrorist camps, and talked extensively of their desire to “die on the battlefield,” according to court documents.