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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2008

Terror trial defendant talked of wanting to make people pay for what they do

BLADE STAFF

Mohammad Amawi said he wanted to train in weapons and tactics so that he could "make people pay for what they do" and not to "aggressively harm someone who did not do anything," according to recordings presented in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

The trial for three Toledo area men charged with terrorism-related crimes resumed Tuesday morning in federal court. The government s key witness, Darren Griffin, returned to the stand for a third day of testimony.

A paid informant for the government charged with seeking out terrorism activity in the Toledo area Muslim community, Mr. Griffin testified about the many hours of conversations he had with defendants, of Mr. Amawi, 28; Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 26.

The three men are each charged with planning to wage a "holy war" using skills they learned on the Internet. Specifically, the government alleged that the three conspired to kill or injure people in the Middle East including U.S. troops serving in Iraq as well as providing "support and resources" to terrorists.

Mr. Amawi and Mr. El-Hindi also are charged with "distributing information regarding explosives."

If convicted, the men face up to life in prison.

In one conversation between Mr. Amawi and Mr. Griffin, Mr. Amawi spoke of the rape of captured Iraqi women by U.S. soldiers. He said that U.S. news reports failed to tell the public about these kinds of atrocities that he claimed occurred in Iraq.

"So if I was in Iraq cutting heads would be OK; not OK, it would be a pleasure," he said.

He also entered several chat rooms where he spoke of his desires to be involved in a jihad, or holy war.

Mr. Griffin s testimony, which is expected to last for more than a week, involves hours of recorded conversations with the defendants. It will be several days before defense attorneys are able to question him.

The trial was delayed for a few hours this morning because the computer screens in the courtroom s jury box were not working properly. Jurors are able to follow the recordings with transcriptions provided by the government.

The trial is expected to last more than three months. A jury of nine men and nine women including six alternates will decide the case.



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