in 2004, Tarek Mehanna traveled from America to Yemen with a friend. He claims he was searching out schools at which to study classical Islamic law. The US government insists that he was looking for a jihadi training camp. What all agree is that, even if he was looking for jihadis, he never found any.  The US authorities accept that Mehanna never joined the jihadi groups he never found, nor ever funded any such groups. He did, however, on returning to the USA, set up a website that published English translations of jihadi documents, including one called ’39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad’, and advocated the jihadi cause. Last year Mehanna was convicted of providing ‘material support for terrorism’, and of ‘conspiring to kill in a foreign country’. Earlier this month he was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison.

The Mehanna case raises troubling questions about how the…

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