Can An American Jury Acquit A Terror Suspect?December 24th, 2011 6:53 am Karen Greenberg
This past Tuesday, a federal jury decided a terrorism case. And once again, the verdict is guilty. High profile terrorism cases, like the case of Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year-old American pharmacy school graduate who was on trial for providing material support to Al Qaeda operations and other terrorism charges because of his Internet writings and a trip to Yemen in 2004 (even though he never picked up a weapon or received any training), always end with a conviction.
In Mehanna’s case, the jury in Boston took more than a day to decide. His lawyers won some small victories – Mehanna’s parents stood by him with somber grace, a terrorism expert witness for the prosecution was shown to have received nearly $1 million in payments and nearly half his salary from government agencies in the past five years, and numerous specialists in counterterrorism (including former CIA case officer and NYPD advisor Marc Sagemen) testified for the defense – but none of it mattered. When a federal judge asks a jury to make a decision in a terrorism case, there is rarely an acquittal.