United States v. Amawi

This from Bobby Chesney, through his invaluable National Security Law List-Serve.

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* United States v. Amawi (N.D. Ohio June 13, 2007)

Jury convictions in a significant Ohio terrorism prosecution under § 956(a) last Friday. Not sure why this one didn’t make more headlines. From the press release:

A federal jury in the Northern District of Ohio has convicted three Ohio residents, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 28, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 27, of conspiring to commit terrorist acts against Americans overseas, including U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and other terrorism-related violations.

In February 2007, Amawi, El-Hindi, and Mazloum were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States, including U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq, and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Amawi and El-Hindi were also charged individually with distributing information regarding the manufacture or use of explosives, including suicide bomb vests and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Three additional counts in the superseding indictment were severed before trial and were not considered by this jury.

Today, the jury convicted the defendants on all counts. Amawi, a citizen of Jordan and the United States, and El Hindi, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Jordan, were each convicted of one count of conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States, one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, and two counts of distributing information on explosives. Mazloum, a U.S. legal permanent resident from Lebanon, was convicted of one count of conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States and one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

At trial, the government proved that all three defendants engaged in a conspiracy, beginning sometime prior to June 2004, to kill or maim persons outside the United States, including U.S. armed forces personnel in Iraq. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants conducted firearms training and accessed and copied instructions in the construction and use of explosives – including IEDs and suicide bomb vests. In addition, the defendants conspired to recruit others to participate in jihad training; researched and solicited funding sources for such training; and proposed sites for training in firearms, explosives and hand-to-hand combat to prospective recruits.

The government also proved that all defendants conspired to provide material support and resources, including personnel, money, explosives and laptop computers, to terrorists, including a co-conspirator in the Middle East, who had requested such materials for use against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. For example, among other activities, Amawi communicated with a contact in the Middle East on chemical explosives and traveled to Jordan in August 2005 with laptop computers intended for delivery for mujahideen “brothers” whom he learned were preparing to cross into Iraq.

The government also proved that Amawi knowingly distributed to others a guide describing the step-by-step process for manufacturing chemical explosive compounds, as well as a video entitled, “Martyrdom Operation Vest Preparation,” which described the step-by-step construction and use of a suicide bomb vest. Amawi distributed these materials with the intent that they be used for training others to commit a crime of violence, including the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.

The government further proved that El-Hindi knowingly distributed a slide show demonstrating the preparation and use of IEDs against apparent U.S. military vehicles and personnel, as well as the video entitled “Martyrdom Operation Vest Preparation.” El-Hindi distributed these materials with the intent that they be used for training others to commit a crime of violence, including the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.

“This case demonstrates the stark reality of home grown terrorism. If a plot like this can be developed in Toledo, OH, it can happen anywhere. With radical extremists in our midst, the FBI works day and night with our law enforcement and intelligence partners to pursue suspected terrorists and their supporters,” said C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland Division, FBI.

The maximum statutory penalties for the offenses on which the defendants were convicted include: life imprisonment for conspiracy to kill or maim persons outside the United States; 20 years imprisonment for distributing information regarding explosives (each count); and 15 years imprisonment for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

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