Padilla defense rests, calling no witnesses

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MIAMI — After months of testimony about mujahedeen fighters, FBI wiretaps and Islamic jihads waged in Bosnia and Chechnya, attorneys yesterday rested their defense of three men accused of supporting terrorism abroad.

Lawyers for terror suspect Kifah Jayyousi rounded out the 53rd day of testimony that began back in May by calling no witnesses.

“At this time Mr. Jayyousi’s defense rests,” said defense attorney William Swor.

Lawyers for Jose Padilla, once considered the lead suspect in the trial, also called no witnesses yesterday, keeping with their tactic of not bringing a single person to the stand in defense of their client.

Federal prosecutors offered a brief rebuttal to the several weeks of defense testimony by asking Barry University professor Rise Jane Samara about a lecture that third terror defendant Adham Hassoun gave at the South Florida college.

Lawyers for Mr. Hassoun rested their case last week.

The jury watched a portion of the videotaped lecture in which Mr. Hassoun — a native Palestinian — made impassioned remarks about Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“When you booked Adham Hassoun, did you know that you were getting a live representative of mujahedeen?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Killinger.

Ms. Samara said she was not aware of Mr. Hassoun’s allegiances to any Islamic group other than his South Florida mosque.

Defense attorneys have attempted to prove that all three defendants were supporting relief efforts for Muslims experiencing the atrocities of war and political oppression.

However, prosecutors assert that the men’s effort went beyond shipping food and clothing to fellow Muslims and included sending arms and recruits to wage jihad, or holy war, in other parts of the world.

Jurors listened to just a small sample of the 300,000 conversations among the three during nearly a decade of surveillance by the FBI that federal attorneys insist contained coded messages used by the men to talk about providing weaponry and soldiers to ongoing Muslim battles in countries like Somalia and the breakaway Russian province of Chechnya during the 1990s.

During those conversations, Mr. Padilla’s voice was heard only seven times.

But prosecutors produced a “mujahedeen data form” that they said Mr. Padilla completed in 2000 after participating in a training camp run by al Qaeda in southern Afghanistan.

The form, according to prosecutors, illustrates Mr. Padilla’s allegiance to a group headed by mastermind Osama bin Laden and demonstrates his intent to conduct terrorist acts.

After Mr. Padilla was arrested in 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Attorney General John Ashcroft said federal law-enforcement officials had thwarted an al Qaeda plot involving Mr. Padilla to detonate a “dirty bomb” on U.S. soil and blow up several apartment buildings in major American cities.

Mr. Padilla was said to have admitted to federal officials during initial interrogations in a military prison his involvement in a “dirty bomb” scheme and to training with al Qaeda.

Those confessions were eventually ruled inadmissible as evidence because the defendant had not been read his Miranda rights, nor did he have legal counsel present at the time.

Charges were never officially filed against Mr. Padilla during his incarceration in a Navy brig in South Carolina after a failure to gather enough usable evidence against him. The Bush administration in November 2005 then linked Mr. Padilla to the ongoing case in Miami.

Federal prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments on Monday.

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