- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

A federal grand jury in Miami yesterday indicted two men on terrorism charges, accusing them of providing material support in a conspiracy to commit violent jihad overseas, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

The 10-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court charged Adhan Amin Hassoun, a Palestinian national living in Florida, and Mohamed Hesham Youssef, who is in custody of authorities in Egypt, with conspiracy to provide and providing material support for terrorists.

“The indictment alleges that Hassoun engaged in recruiting and fund raising to send individuals, including Youssef and an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator to Somalia, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kosovo,” Mr. Ashcroft said. “The alleged purpose of this travel was to receive violent jihad training and to fight jihad, which would involve acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming.”

The conspiracy, according to the indictment, sought the imposition on states of radicalized Islamic law.

Law-enforcement authorities have identified the unindicted co-conspirator as Jose Padilla, the so-called “dirty bomber” arrested by FBI agents on a material witness warrant in May 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after a flight from Pakistan.

At the time of his arrest, authorities said, he was carrying $10,000 in U.S. currency from al Qaeda terrorist handlers. Padilla has been in jail for more than two years as an “enemy combatant.”

The indictment culminated a 10-year investigation by the Justice Department’s criminal division, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that began as an intelligence-collection initiative but transitioned into a criminal probe.

Mr. Ashcroft, during a Justice Department press conference to announce the indictment, said Hassoun was previously charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, making false statements, perjury and obstruction of immigration court proceedings, and also is in custody.

The unindicted co-conspirator was described in the indictment only as a U.S. citizen who filled out an application to the training camp and then traveled to what was known as the “The area of Usama,” referring to al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, for that training, and then returned to the United States in May 2002.

The indictment said Hassoun wrote a series of checks totaling more than $53,000 from 1994 to 2001 to unindicted co-conspirators and organizations — including the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation — to be used to support violent jihad.

In July, the Holy Land Foundation and seven of its leaders were indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on charges of providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas and raising illicit cash for other extremist groups who espoused an “Islamic fundamentalist agenda.” The Holy Land Foundation was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States.

That indictment said the Holy Land Foundation was created to provide financial and material support to Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group that has called for the killing of all Jews. It said that from 1995 to 2001, the foundation raised $12.4 million for persons and organizations linked to Hamas.

Law-enforcement authorities have described the Holy Land Foundation as a part of a nationwide conspiracy by Islamist extremists to divert cash to international terrorists through “front companies” and “phantom organizations” — many located in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Ashcroft said Hassoun and Youssef also participated in a series of coded conversations from 1996 through 2000 to suggest participation in violent jihad around the world. Some of the coded conversions, he said, included questions on whether there was a way to deliver “stuff to soccer teams in Chechnya or Bosnia.”

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