Tarek Mehanna (right) with two friends at Ground Zero.
The American who coordinates the Islamic State’s online propaganda efforts was caught on tape by the FBI in 2006 plotting “peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches” from “culinary school” — code for terrorist attacks and training camps.
The phone and online conversations give a chilling look inside the head of a homegrown terrorist.
The CIA says at least 2,000 of the estimated 31,500 jihadists the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has recruited are from America and other Western nations.
Ahmad Abousamra, the ISIS recruiter-propagandist who sits on the FBI’s most-wanted list, communicated with a cell of jihadists in the Boston area.
Knowing the feds were monitoring their phone and online conversations, they spoke in a strict coded language, including referring to terrorist training and attacks as cooking classes.
“They regularly used ‘Brian’ (and sometimes ‘Bob’) as a code for FBI agents,” one federal court document says. Iraq was never called Iraq but “Raafidayn” or “land of the two rivers.”
“P-town” was code for Pakistan, another key stop on the jihad circuit.
They justified the lies with an Islamic concept called “takiyya,” which allows the faithful to hide their beliefs and actions when dealing with “kufar” or non-Muslim authorities. From Arabic, it translates roughly to “expedient duplicity.”
Before fleeing the country in December 2006, as the FBI closed in on him, Abousamra traveled extensively to terrorist hot spots seeking training.
But he always lied to customs officials, saying he was traveling to study Arabic or serve as a translator in Iraq, according to his indictment.
One of Abousamra’s confederates, Tarek Mehanna — who is serving 17 years in federal prison after being found guilty of translating material for al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS — was particularly thrilled that 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta was once in Boston.
In an online conversation recorded by federal agents, he speculated that maybe “we saw him at the ISB [Islamic Society of Boston] or something.”
The Post reported last week at least eight notorious extremist Muslims — including Abousamra and the Boston Marathon bombers — attended the same Cambridge, Mass., Islamic Society mosque.
Both Abousamra and his best pal Mehanna cheered the 9/11 attacks and idolized the hijackers as “heroes.”
They [Abousamra and Mehanna] even expressed delight in seeing the “ribs and internal organs” of mutilated Americans.
Mehanna had some 30 photos of Ground Zero on his computer, including one in which he is shown grinning and making a “We’re No. 1” sign. Some were sent to Iraq jihadists.
In one communication, they laughed at the victims in the World Trade Center and prayed Allah would show “the sinners” in the towers no mercy in the afterlife. “May Allah’s curse be on those who died on Sept. 11,” it said.
They made tribute videos to the hijackers and distributed them on the Internet. In 2006, they discussed their desire to be the “media wing” for al Qaeda in Iraq.
Soon, they became adept at translating what they called “jihadeos” depicting grisly violence against US soldiers into English to help recruit jihadists in the West.
Some major names in terrorism, including the Boston Marathon bombers and the man behind the ISIS beheadings, have worshipped at the Islamic Society of Boston, located in Cambridge, Mass.Photo: Douglas Healey
One video showed a soldier dragged on the ground and set on fire. “Texas BBQ is the way to go,” Mehanna said. They even expressed delight in seeing the “ribs and internal organs” of mutilated Americans, whom they called “uluj,” or dirty infidels.
He and Abousamra also translated the lessons of “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad” and posted it on a list serve called At-Tibyan Publications, where English-speaking Muslims praised al Qaeda. One of those lessons is to “assist the jihad on the Internet,” advising that “electronic jihad…is a blessed field.”
After they failed to obtain automatic weapons to murder mall shoppers and U.S. officials in Washington, their weapons became a keyboard and computer.
Authorities believe their translations were “very important and successful” in attracting English-speaking fighters to ISIS.
Tarek Mehanna after he was arrested and charged with conspiring to plot terror attacks in 2009.Photo: AP
Abousamra’s computer skills are still being used for recruiting, as he produces the slick if ghastly videos of American beheadings and posts them on Twitter and Facebook.
While in Boston, Abousamra and his jihadist buddies also would gather at mosques and discuss “who it is halal [proper] to kill” under Islamic law.
“I hate this stupid kufr [sinful] land,” Abousamra said in a February 2006 communication. intercepted by the FBI. “I hate being surrounded by kaafirs.”
Two weeks after the FBI questioned Abousamra in December 2006, he departed Logan Airport for Syria, telling customs officials he was visiting his wife, even though he was divorced. He never returned.
Authorities suspect he’s producing hate propaganda from Aleppo, Syria.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and the author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”