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Defense points to Chechen aid effort
Question of the Day
MIAMI — Jurors in the terror trial of Jose Padilla yesterday watched a video about aid provided to Muslims caught in the Chechen war, which lawyers for co-defendant Kifah Jayyousi said illustrates their client’s passion for helping his religious brethren.
Erol Bulur testified that Mr. Jayyousi’s organization, American Worldwide Relief (AWR), provided several tons of relief supplies. The aid was delivered to his warehouse in Paterson, N.J., then shipped to Istanbul and onto Baku, Azerbaijan, where it was sent across the border to Chechnya.
In the video produced by Mr. Bulur in the mid-1990s and shown on his own public-access television show, volunteers packed boxes of clothing, food, medicine and other items bound for the breakaway Russian province.
“This was a unique case where the community was emotionally affected by what they were seeing,” said Mr. Bulur, who was born in Turkey.
Mr. Jayyousi’s defense attorney, Marshall Dore Louis, took pains to illustrate that several boxes of donated materials in the video were labeled “AWR.” Seventy percent of the donations collected at the warehouse were from Mr. Jayyousi’s group, Mr. Bulur said.
Prosecutors painted a very different picture of AWR, Mr. Jayyousi and his fellow defendants, Adham Hassoun and Jose Padilla. The three are accused of providing money, equipment and material support to terrorist organizations in places such as Chechnya.
In addition to his relief organization, Mr. Jayyousi published a newsletter called the “Islam Report,” which prosecutors said was a propaganda publication for raising monies for the radical Islamic cause, an accusation his lawyers denied.
“It was just chaos. There was no relief work,” said Muslim convert Jeremy Collins, who worked for the organization.
Hoping to counter prosecutors’ efforts to portray Mr. Jayyousi as a terrorist supporter, defense attorneys called to the witness stand a former colleague of the defendant from the University of California at San Diego.
Jerry White, chief of facilities at the university, said he was unaware of any purported connection to terrorist groups that Mr. Jayyousi may have had during his employment with the university as a mechanical engineer in the mid-1990s.
Instead, Mr. White noted how Mr. Jayyousi and a another colleague at the university, an Israeli architect, celebrated with champagne the 1993 peace accord between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The two men toasted “may peace reign forever,” Mr. White said.
Mr. Jayyousi’s lawyers said they would rest their case Tuesday. On Wednesday, Mr. Hassoun’s attorneys rested their case, while attorneys for Mr. Padilla said they will not call anyone to the witness stand to testify on his behalf.
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