The FBI is offering a reward up to $50,000 and using a variety of social media platforms in a quest for information it hopes will lead to the arrest of a Massachusetts man charged with helping international terrorists.
Being sought is Ahmad Abousamra, a dual U.S. and Syrian citizen, who authorities believe may be living in Aleppo, Syria, with at least one child, a daughter, and an extended family. He uses several aliases.
Abousamra, 31, fled the United States in 2006, shortly after being interviewed by the FBI. He was indicted in 2009, charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to Al Qaeda. He was accused of taking several trips to Pakistan and Yemen in 2002 and 2004 to seek jihad training. He also traveled to Iraq with the hope of joining forces fighting against Americans overseas, the FBI said.
Abousamra’s alleged co-conspirator, Tarek Mehanna, was convicted of terrorism charges by a federal jury in December 2011 and sentenced last April to 17.5 years in prison.
“Both men were self-radicalized and used the Internet to educate themselves,” said Special Agent Heidi Williams, a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston who has been working the case since 2006.
“They came to it independently, but once they found each other, they encouraged each other’s beliefs,” Williams said in a prepared statement.
Abousamra is of Syrian descent, 5 feet 11 inches tall, and at the time of his disappearance weighed about 170 pounds. He has dark brown hair and brown eyes, officials said. He has a high-pitched voice.
He is fluent in English and Arabic, has a college degree related to computer technology, and was previously employed at a telecommunications company. Abousamra last lived in the U.S. in the prosperous Boston suburb of Mansfield, officials said.
The FBI has been seeking Abousamra since he was indicted, but has stepped up its campaign, which includes the reward and the use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
“Combining the reach and power of multiple media platforms is a powerful way to inform the public about our search,” said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston office. “We believe publicizing Abousamra’s photo and characteristics will lead to a tip about his whereabouts and, ultimately, to his arrest.”