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Published: Sunday, 2/26/2006

Papers may link suspects to padlocked KindHearts


TOLEDO - Documents seized by federal agents suggest that two of three Muslim men accused of plotting to kill American and allied soldiers may have ties to a Muslim charity suspected of funneling money to the militant organization Hamas.

Federal agents seized an invoice from the charity KindHearts from a travel agency where defendant Mohammad Zaki Amawi worked.

Agents also took a KindHearts binder from an address where defendant Marwan Othman El-Hindi lived.

Lists of items seized were filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

The three suspects - Mr. El-Hindi, Mr. Amawi, and Wassim I. Mazloum - were arrested last weekend. All have pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiring to kill Americans and conspiring to provide or conceal support to terrorists.

U.S. Attorney Greg White said the investigations of KindHearts and the alleged terror plot are separate.

KindHearts has denied any terrorist connections and has said it is a humanitarian organization. But on Feb. 19, the Treasury Department ordered U.S. banks to freeze the assets of the Toledo-based charity.

Cleveland lawyer Jihad Smaili, who is also a KindHearts board member, said yesterday that items seized by federal agents during the terror arrests do not prove any link with his organization.

"There is no connection there," Mr. Smaili said. "Even if these men had KindHearts items in their possession, that does not mean that KindHearts supported them to do something illegal. That would be guilt by association."

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