- The Washington Times - Friday, June 15, 2007

MIAMI — Jurors heard wiretapped conversations yesterday of terrorism suspect Adham Amin Hassoun discussing what prosecutors assert were the travels of a fellow Muslim to Chechnya in 2000 to wage jihad, or holy war, in the breakaway Russian province.

Prosecutor Brian Frazier asked Special Agent John Kavanaugh to interpret so-called “code phrases” used by Mr. Hassoun and Mahommed Youssef, a terrorism suspect currently in Egyptian custody, about the fighting in Chechnya that was raging at the time.

“Everyone is closing up the store at 9/15,” Mr. Hassoun was heard saying in a conversation with Mr. Youssef, who at the time was supposedly en route to Chechnya.

Mr. Kavanaugh interpreted the remarks as a warning that the window was closing for Muslim fighters wanting to join the war in Chechnya.

“There are many here that want to submit resumes,” Mr. Hassoun said in the same conversation with Mr. Youssef, meaning other members of the South Florida mosque both men attended were eager to join Chechen rebels in their battle against Russian forces.

Several of the conversations were placed from Mr. Hassoun“s home in Sunrise, Fla., to numbers in Georgia, on the border with Chechnya, and Baku, Azerbaijan, a supposed stopover for mujahedeen trying to join the fight, Mr. Kavanaugh said.

Yesterday’s testimony by Mr. Kavanaugh was a continuation of his nearly weeklong interpretation for prosecutors of some of the nearly 300,000 phone conversations recorded since the early 1990s until Mr. Hassoun“s arrest in 2002.

Defense attorneys were adamantly opposed to his testimony regarding the meaning of the so-called code words.

Mr. Hassoun — along with Kifah Wael Jayyousi and lead suspect Jose Padilla — is charged with supplying material support to terrorist groups worldwide. In addition to those charges, Mr. Padilla is accused of being a willing recruit of al Qaeda.

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Hassoun encouraged and funded Mr. Padilla’s and Mr. Youssef’s overseas travels to study Arabic and participate in jihad. Prosecutors hoped to convince jurors that after his studies in Cairo, Mr. Padilla traveled to Afghanistan. Once there, he trained in warfare and terrorist tactics at a camp run by al Qaeda, prosecutors say.

So far there has been little evidence to support federal prosecutors” assertions that Mr. Padilla even traveled to Afghanistan other than a few coded references to his being there and a “mujahedeen data form” he supposedly filled out at a terrorist training camp.

Mr. Padilla was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2002. 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.

The lead defendant was then incarcerated in a Navy brig in South Carolina, but charges were not filed because of a failure to gather enough usable evidence against him. In November 2005, the Bush administration linked Mr. Padilla to the ongoing case in Miami, accusing him and the other defendants of aiding terror groups worldwide. Mr. Padilla then was transferred to a South Florida federal detention center.