FBI offers $50K reward for terror suspect
BOSTON — A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a Massachusetts man wanted on terrorism charges, the FBI announced Wednesday.
The FBI said it is seeking the public's help in locating Ahmad Abousamra, an American citizen who authorities believe might be living in Syria's battleground city of Aleppo with his wife, at least one child and extended family. He uses several aliases.
Abousamra, 31, of Syrian descent, fled the United States in 2006, shortly after he was interviewed by the FBI.
The agency says Abousamra is an associate of Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts man convicted on four terrorism charges and sentenced to 17½ years in prison.
Abousamra was indicted in 2009 after taking multiple trips to Pakistan and Yemen, where he attempted to obtain military training for the purpose of killing American soldiers overseas, the FBI said.
He traveled to Iraq in the hope of joining forces fighting against the United States, but the exact nature of his activities there is unknown.
Prosecutors said during Mehanna's trial that Mehanna and Abousamra failed to find a terrorist training camp.
“We think that the indictment very clearly characterizes the very serious threat that (Abousamra) poses, and that's why we are initiating our world media campaign today to highlight our fugitive search for him,” Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston field office, told The Associated Press.
DesLauriers said the FBI has had an active fugitive investigation since Abousamra was indicted in 2009. He would not say what prompted the FBI to begin the publicity campaign now.
Aleppo, where Abousamra may be living, has been devastated in recent months as rebels try to wrest control of it from the regime of President Bashar Assad. Suicide car bombings in the northern Syrian city on Wednesday killed more than 30 people and injured more than 120.
Jason Lydon of the The Tarek Mehanna Support Committee said the $50,000 reward is part of a government campaign “to distract us all from the ongoing U.S. occupation and bombing of Muslim countries and the Islamophobic attacks on Muslims here in the United States.” He added, “We support the right of Muslim people to defend themselves when under attack.”
Special Agent Heidi Williams, a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, said Abousamra and Mehanna were “self-radicalized” and used the Internet to educate themselves.