Friend: Mehanna Dubbed Osama Bin Laden His “Real Father”

By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) — A friend has testified at the federal trial of a Massachusetts man charged with conspiring to help al-Qaida that they watched jihad videos together and praised Osama Bin Laden.

On Thursday, the friend said Tarek Mehanna described Bin Laden as his “real father” in online conversations they had in 2006. The man also testified that he and Mehanna expressed admiration for the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Several friends of the 29-year-old Mehanna are expected to testify for the prosecution.

Prosecutors say Mehanna traveled to Yemen in 2004 seeking terrorist training, and when that failed he returned to the Boston suburb of Sudbury and began translating and distributing materials promoting terrorism on the Internet.

Mehanna’s lawyers say he was exercising his free speech rights to show anger over the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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