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Man Charged In Plot To Attack U.S. Shopping Mall

BOSTON (Reuters) -- U.S. federal prosecutors have charged a Massachusetts man with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, alleging he and co-conspirators traveled to the Middle East seeking training, discussed attacking a shopping center, and distributed videos promoting holy war.

Tarek Mehanna, 27, from Sudbury, Massachusetts, had been previously indicted in January 2009 for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other officials in connection with a terrorism investigation, the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release on October 21.

"Mehanna and the co-conspirators had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in a shopping mall, and that the conversations went so far as to discuss the logistics of a mall attack, including coordination, weapons needed, and the possibility of attacking emergency responders," the Justice Department said.

Mehanna was arrested at his home on early on October 21.

Prosecutors allege that from 2001 to 2008 Mehanna conspired with a man named Ahmad Abousamra and others in an attempt to kill, kidnap, or injure people in the United States.

The charges accuse Mehanna and co-conspirators of talking about their desire to participate in Islamist holy war and of their desire to die on the battlefield.

The case comes less than a month after an Afghan-born man, Najibullah Zazi, was accused of plotting a bomb attack against the United States.

Authorities say Zazi took a bomb-making course at an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, had bomb-making notes on his laptop computer, and acquired bomb-making materials similar to those used in the 2005 London attacks, buying acetone and hydrogen peroxide at beauty supply stores.

Zazi, an Afghan immigrant and permanent U.S. resident, was indicted late last month on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held in prison without bail.