- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MIAMI — An analyst testifying in the Jose Padilla trial faced accusations yesterday that his knowledge of extremist Islamic groups is subject to speculation.

Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, has spent several days answering questions about his qualifications from lawyers for Mr. Padilla’s co-defendants in the terrorism case, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi.

The author of “Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror” repeatedly defended his credentials as an authority on Islamic extremism, particularly the group led by terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Although even U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke has referred to Mr. Gunaratna as “the guy,” a reference to his reputation as an al Qaeda expert, defense attorney William Swor challenged elements of the federal witness testimony.

Representing Mr. Jayyousi, Mr. Swor questioned Mr. Gunaratna’s claim that bin Laden was a relatively unknown figure before the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings of U.S. missions in Kenya and Tanzania.

Mr. Swor read from a laundry list of more than a dozen newspapers and publications that carried articles on the Saudi-born al Qaeda head that were published before the bombings.

“He [bin Laden] was an unknown figure. … I still stand by that,” said Mr. Gunaratna, who was at times visibly rattled by Mr. Swor’s efforts to question his authority, as well as his objectivity. Mr. Gunaratna testified that he worked for U.S. government agencies and had questioned terrorist suspects in U.S. custody during his research.

During his testimony yesterday, Mr. Gunaratna also testified that during the 1990s, Mr. Jayyousi published propaganda in his “Islamic Report” newsletter in support of jihad, or holy war.

“It is terrorist propaganda,” Mr. Gunaratna said. “It is the activity of a support cell — a terrorist support cell.”

Mr. Padilla, Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi are accused of providing money, equipment and material support to terrorist organizations abroad as part of a purported “South Florida Support Cell.” Mr. Padilla also faces the additional charge of being a willing recruit of al Qaeda.

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