Prosecutor sees similarities to Boston bombings and local terrorism case

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ATLANTA - The federal prosecutor who successfully pursued terrorism charges against two metro Atlanta men in 2009 said there are clear parallels between the bombings at the Boston Marathon and the local cases.

Channel 2’s Lori Geary sat down with Robert McBurney, who is now a Fulton County Superior Court judge, to discuss his experience prosecuting two men on terrorism charges.  

“There’s certainly a tremor that goes through when you see what happened in Boston and say, ‘We are so fortunate,’” McBurney said.

Ehsanul Sadeequee, who lived in Roswell, and former Georgia Tech student Syed Ahmed are now serving more than a decade behind bars for helping overseas terrorists.

McBurney said he could not help but think of the local cases while watching the events unfold in Boston this week.

“They are young, their ages very similar to Ahmed and Sadeequee’s ages at the time. They’re very impressionable,” McBurney said.

There is no link between Boston’s bombing suspects and overseas terrorists, but McBurney, who worked the Georgia cases for three years, said it was clear that the Internet influenced Sadeequee and Ahmed, who both chatted online with a Bosnian terrorist.

“He had a video where they built a bomb with a timer and they blew up a tree. He had plastic explosives that were shapeable into a vest and he was not a scientist. There were things they learned online,” McBurney said.

Videos the two Georgia men posted online helped lead to their convictions, as well as online chatter planning attacks similar to Boston.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta was among the possible targets.

“The tragedy for Boston is for whatever reason, these two flew below the radar, just low enough that they weren’t intercepted before they could do what they did,” McBurney said.

For McBurney, a Harvard grad, the Boston events hit close to home.

“Both of the guys from the Boston situation went to Cambridge Rindge and Latin. I actually taught a class there when I was in college,” McBurney said.