FBI offers reward for Mass. terrorism suspect
BOSTON -- A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a Massachusetts man who fled the country six years ago after being questioned in a terrorism investigation.
The FBI said it is seeking the public's help in locating Ahmad Abousamra, a U.S. citizen from Mansfield who authorities believe may be living in Aleppo, Syria, with at least one child, a daughter, and extended family. He uses several aliases.
“We consider this to be a serious matter and we are seeking the public’s assistance to develop tips,” Richard DesLauriers of the FBI told 7News on Wednesday.
Abousamra, now 31, fled the United States in 2006, shortly after being interviewed by the FBI.
Specials agents tracking Abousamra have released a recording, they apparently made of his voice, as he talked about investigators.
“If they don’t have a warrant, they don’t have the right to do that,” Abousamra allegedly said in the recording. “Make sure you tell your mother that next time -- ‘cause they might scare her.”
The FBI says Abousamra is an associate of Tarek Mehanna, a Sudbury man convicted on four terrorism charges and sentenced this year to 17 1/2 years in prison.
Abousamra was indicted in 2009 after taking multiple trips to Pakistan and Yemen, where he allegedly attempted to obtain military training for the purpose of killing American soldiers overseas. The FBI said he also traveled to Iraq in the hope of joining forces fighting against the United States, but said the exact nature of his activities there is unknown.
FBI agents said he has traveled to Pakistan and Yemen to receive Jihad training. Prosecutors said during Mehanna's trial that Mehanna and Abousamra failed to find a terrorist camp in Yemen.
In Nov. 2009, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Abousamra after he was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and other charges. He and Mehanna were charged in a later indictment with an additional count of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al-Qaida. Abousamra was indicted on nine charges in total.
"We think that the indictment very clearly characterizes the very serious threat that he poses, and that's why we are initiating our world media campaign today to highlight our fugitive search for him," DesLauriers told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
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 launch the publicity campaign now.
“We really need someone to provide us information that will allow us or another law enforcement agency to take him into custody, to bring him back to the United States to face justice,” DesLauriers told 7News.
The FBI said it will use traditional media and social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as its website to make photos, an audio clip of Abousamra's voice, wanted posters in English, French and Arabic available to the public. DesLauriers said Abousamra has a distinctive, high-pitched voice.
Abousamra was born in France, is of Syrian descent and has dual citizenship in the United States and Syria. He speaks, reads and writes fluently in English and Arabic, and has a college degree related to computer technology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Prior to fleeing the country, Abousamra lived on Church Street in Mansfield and graduated Stoughton High School in 1999. Neighbors said they never had any trouble on the street.
“It’s just concerning, like everything else,” said Linda Norack, a concerned resident of Mansfield. “If you hear the FBI is looking for somebody you’re like, ‘Wow, wow I don’t know anybody like that.’”
“I really don’t know what to say other than the fact that the way things are going I’m not really surprised,” said Rich Mcaulay, who lives on Church Street in Mansfield.
The FBI said they believe Abousamra’s family now lives in Detroit.
(Copyright (c) 2012 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)