Toledo terrorist suspect Marwan Othman El-Hindi was involved in everything from collecting information about the manufacture of suicide vests to plans for training as a sniper, U.S. attorneys alleged yesterday in U.S. District Court in Toledo.
The information was introduced to refute Mr. El-Hindi's assertion that he is a trustworthy member of the community and should be released on a $20,000 bond pending his trial in May on federal charges.
"He was both recruiting individuals for this training, participating in the training in some ways, and also attempting to finance the training," U.S. Attorney Gregg Sofer said while outlining the crux of the government's case.
"It shows that he has ties to the Middle East and is a danger to the community - the community that includes our troops overseas," he said.
Judge James Carr denied the request after a nearly four-hour hearing during which Mr. El-Hindi's attorneys tried to portray him as a family man and entrepreneur worthy of release.
Mr. El-Hindi, 43, was arrested in February with two other Toledo-area men and charged with conspiring to kill or injure U.S. troops serving in Iraq and others in the Middle East, and with providing the "support and resources" to do so.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Mr. Sofer said the government has "hours and hours of recorded testimony that make up significant conspiratorial involvement." He also said that much of what Mr. El-Hindi is accused of was caught on tape. He then read several preliminary transcripts into the record yesterday that previously were not made public.
The recordings were of conversations that occurred in February, 2005, between the suspect and a government witness known as "the Trainer."
In a transcript of a Feb. 8, 2005, conversation, Mr. El-Hindi allegedly discusses downloading a video showing suicide vest instructions for use in jihad training. Mr. Sofer added that Mr. El-Hindi downloaded the "lengthy video" that depicts the manufacture, use, and potential result, including range of devastation, of a suicide vest.
"It's a slice, a snippet of the amount of taped conversations," Mr. Sofer said. "Not a lot of this is subject to a whole lot of interpretation by the defense."
Mr. Sofer read several portions of transcripts, stressing that they were still preliminary.
During a Feb. 16 conversation, Mr. El-Hindi and "the Trainer" spoke of the fighting tactics being used and how the men referred to the job of a sniper as being "the most important thing," Mr. Sofer said.
Mr. Sofer read, "Trainer: 'I think you'll be very good.' Defendant: 'God willing.'•"
In another conversation, the men discussed the land they would use for training purposes.
"There's no question, your honor, that the type of training they were discussing was jihad, not defensive-type training," Mr. Sofer told Judge Carr after paraphrasing some of the conversation. "They're discussing sniper rifles, IEDs [improvised explosive devices], and suicide vests, none of which are used in defensive training."
Mr. El-Hindi was charged along with Wassim I. Mazloum, 24, of Sylvania and Toledoan Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 26, who also was charged with twice threatening President Bush and distributing bomb-making information.
Mr. Mazloum and Mr. El-Hindi were arrested in the Toledo area; Mr. Amawi was detained in Jordan, where he had traveled with a government-paid informant.
Defense attorney Stephen Hartman filed a motion last month asking that Mr. El-Hindi be let out on bond and suggested that his wife, Marwa Aboud, would supervise his release.
Pointing out that his client has ties to Toledo, Mr. Hartman added that it would ease the preparation of his defense if Mr. El-Hindi were closer to the city. He is being held in the federal prison in Milan, Mich.
Mr. El-Hindi testified on his own behalf. Also testifying were his wife, who wore scarves over her head covering everything but her eyes, and a longtime friend, Muwahhid Adil, of Toledo, who served as a character witness.
Mr. El-Hindi is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Jordan and was living in Toledo. He has seven children, although all but one have gone to live with relatives in New York since his arrest.
Ms. Aboud said she would take responsibility for her husband and report to the courts if he violated the conditions of his release.
Mr. Hartman said after the hearing he was disappointed by the judge's decision and would confer with his client on whether to file an appeal.
He added that he "learned valuable information" from the hearing, but he declined to elaborate.
The defense has 10 days to appeal the judge's ruling.
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