- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MIAMI (AP) — The FBI intercepted more than 300,000 calls during a nearly decadelong investigation into a purported Islamist support cell that Jose Padilla eventually joined, an agent told jurors yesterday.

The tapes form the backbone of the federal case against Mr. Padilla and his two co-defendants, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi. Jurors in the trial of the three men are expected to begin hearing the tapes and reading translations from Arabic to English in the coming days.

Prosecutors say they will show that Mr. Hassoun, Mr. Jayyousi and others plotted — often using code words — to raise money, funnel supplies and identify recruits for violent Islamic causes around the world. Attorneys for Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi contend they were simply helping oppressed and persecuted Muslims.

Mr. Padilla, accused of being one of the support cell’s recruits and an al Qaeda operative, can be heard on seven calls, and his name is mentioned in about two dozen others, according to court documents. The key piece of evidence against him is a “mujahedeen data form” authorities say he completed to attend an al Qaeda terrorist-training camp in 2000.

Mr. Padilla, a 36-year-old former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam, was arrested in May 2002 at O’Hare International Airport on suspicion that he was on a mission to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the United States. He was held for 3 years as an enemy combatant and charged in late 2005 in the Miami case, which does not include the dirty-bomb accusations.

The terror-support cell investigation began years before Mr. Padilla came on the scene.

FBI Agent Kent Hukill testified yesterday that about 14,000 of the calls made by Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi were considered “pertinent” to the investigation, which began in 1994. Prosecutors are submitting as trial evidence 123 calls, a tiny fraction of the total collected.

Mr. Hukill said he has spoken with Mr. Hassoun, who worked as a computer programmer in the suburb of Sunrise, on four occasions and was familiar with the sound of his voice.

“It’s the same voice. He has a very distinctive laugh. It’s the same tone,” he testified.

Defense lawyers attempted to raise doubts about which phone intercepts were chosen by the FBI for evidence out of such a huge number.

“You don’t know what’s in the tapes that were not summarized?” asked William Swor, one of Mr. Jayyousi’s attorneys.

“Not specifically, I don’t,” Mr. Hukill replied.

All three defendants face life in prison if convicted.

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