Declaring that a domestic terrorism threat had been thwarted, US prosecutors have announced the arrest of a Massachusetts man who was allegedly part of a conspiracy to kill Americans in shopping malls, and US soldiers in Iraq as well as target two prominent politicians for assassination.
Acting US Attorney Michael Loucks said that the man, Tarek Mehanna, had been arrested in the early morning at his home in Sudbury, west of Boston. He said that between 2001 and 2008 Mr Mehanna sought – but had never received – training in terrorist camps abroad and had worked with others to carry out their plans.
The alleged conspiracy involved two other men, one who is unnamed and was said to be cooperating with the authorities and another believed to be in Syria.
Mr Mehanna, 27, had "multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in shopping malls", said Mr Loucks. He would not identify any malls that may have been targeted. Nor would officials say which US politicians had been singled out by the group, but they indicated that they had been in the executive branch of the administration of former President George Bush.
Mr Mehanna, a US citizen, was arrested last November and charged with lying to the FBI in 2006, about the whereabouts of another man, Daniel Maldonado, who is now serving a 10-year sentence for training alongside members of al-Qa'ida to overthrow the Somali government.