- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

The arrests this week of three men in Ohio on terrorism-related charges involving troops in Iraq followed raids by federal agents on a Toledo-based Islamic charity accused of providing funds to Hamas.

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman el-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum were named in a five-count indictment on charges of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people in a foreign country; conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals; and harboring or concealing terrorists. They also are accused of using code words to communicate with co-conspirators in the Middle East in an attempt to locate funds and buy explosives and firearms.

Mr. Amawi, 26, is a citizen of Jordan and the United States; Mr. Mazloum, 24, is a legal U.S. resident; and Mr. el-Hindi, 42, is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Jordan. Mr. Amawi also was charged with two counts of making verbal threats against President Bush.

The political wing of Hamas gained control of the Palestinian legislature last month. Hamas is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

Targeted in the raids was KindHearts, which describes itself as a nonprofit charitable organization. U.S. authorities suspect it of sending $4 million a year to Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and Pakistan, including $250,000 to the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development, named by the Treasury Department as a “Hamas-affiliated entity in Lebanon.”

Treasury since has frozen the assets of KindHearts, pending an investigation for terrorism funding. The organization, formally known as the KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development Inc., was one of the Islamic charities that survived being shut down after others were closed in the wake of September 11.

Jihad Smaili, a KindHearts board member, told reporters in Toledo he did not know any of the three men named in the indictment and denied they had anything to do with the charity.

In 2004, Mohammed El-Mezain, who helped coordinate fundraising for KindHearts, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas on charges of illegally sending $12.4 million to Hamas. That case focused on the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, two Muslim charities the U.S. government shut down after September 11.

Hamas Secretary-General Khalid Mishaal has identified Mr. El-Mezain as Hamas’ leader in the United States.

The Toledo indictment said the three men discussed training, making and using improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and taught themselves how to make and use explosives and suicide bomb vests.

It also said Mr. Amawi sent a copy of a video about the construction and use of a bomb vest to a person who was going to provide jihad training. Authorities have since identified the person as “the Trainer,” a former U.S. soldier who has been cooperating with the government in the investigation.

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