Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A federal grand jury in Ohio has indicted three men on charges of conspiring to kill American and coalition troops in Iraq and to recruit, finance and train others for “violent jihad” against the United States and its allies overseas.

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman el-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum, all of Toledo, are accused of using code words beginning in November 2004 to communicate with Middle East co-conspirators to locate funding sources and buy firearms and other equipment needed to train recruits.

According to the indictment, unsealed yesterday, 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. All three are charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people in a foreign country, conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, and harboring or concealing terrorists.

Mr. Amawi also is charged with two counts of making verbal threats against President Bush.

“Let me be clear about why criminal charges such as these are important in our fight against terrorism,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “We cannot wait until an attack happens. We will continue to use our criminal laws as Congress intended, to charge individuals once they conspire to provide support to terrorism or conspire to kill abroad.

“These defendants have been living in the United States where they have been engaging in weapons training, sympathizing with the terrorists, and seeking to provide help in order to kill people abroad, including our troops,” Mr. Gonzales said in announcing the indictments at a Washington press conference.

Although the indictment confirms that the men communicated with sources in the Middle East, Mr. Gonzales declined to say whether investigators used the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program to intercept their communications.

“As I have said in previous discussions about the terrorist surveillance program, we are very, very much concerned about ensuring that we’ve done everything we can do to not jeopardize any prosecution, to not jeopardize any investigation. And I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

The indictment said Mr. Amawi traveled to Jordan in August with five laptop computers for delivery to co-conspirators, although the computers were never delivered.

It also said he obtained a video from a “mujahedeen Web site” about the construction and use of a bomb vest, copied it onto a disk and sent it to a person who was going to provide jihad training. That person is identified only as “the Trainer” and has been cooperating in the investigation. The indictment said Mr. Amawi took part in a session on the construction and use of IEDs and timing devices, saying his aim was to target U.S. troops.

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

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