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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

Toledo defendant didn't fund terrorism, lawyer says

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Despite being labeled by federal prosecutors as the man with the means to fund terrorism-related activities, Marwan El-Hindi never gave a nickel to jihadist training and, in fact, could be heard on recordings saying he was not interested in training for holy war, his defense attorney said yesterday.

During day-long questioning of Darren Griffin in U.S. District Court in Toledo yesterday, Mr. El-Hindi's attorney questioned the government's key witness about what actions Mr. El-Hindi took to further terrorism during the government's three-year investigation. Defense attorney Charles Boss pointed out that Mr. El-Hindi never gave money to further terrorism-related activities, never trained on weapons, and could be heard on multiple occasions talking about recruitment - but for his many business schemes.

Mr. Griffin took the stand yesterday for an 11th day in the trial of three local men charged with terrorism-related crimes.

Mr. El-Hindi, 45, Mohammad Amawi, 28, and Wassim Mazloum, 26, are each charged with planning to wage a "holy war," using skills they learned on the Internet. In the indictment released after their February, 2006, arrests, the government alleged that the three conspired to kill or injure people in the Middle East - including U.S. troops 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." The charge against Mr. El-Hindi stems from Mr. Griffin's testimony during the government's presentation of evidence that Mr. El-Hindi had received and then passed along an e-mail showing how to position and detonate a roadside bomb.

During his second opportunity to question Mr. Griffin, Mr. Boss, who is representing Mr. El-Hindi, asked the witness about his past use of drugs, his failure to pay taxes on the money paid him by the FBI during the investigation, and his decision not to properly pay child support. He also questioned Mr. Griffin about whether he would continue to receive his monthly stipend from the FBI - which totaled nearly $350,000 over the course of the 6-year investigation - if he was no longer needed.

"You needed to make sure that the investigation continued in order to get these payments, didn't you?" he asked.

Prior to being questioned by the defense and over a period of eight days and using more than 33 hours of recorded audio and video, Mr. Griffin testified on behalf of the government about his role in gathering information in Toledo's Muslim community. He said he spent time at a local mosque and was outspoken against U.S. involvement overseas, and the three defendants responded with interest.

Attorneys for Mr. Amawi and Mr. Mazloum questioned Mr. Griffin two days last week. Both questioned whether the men's desire to shoot guns in a legal environment at a local indoor shooting range and Mr. Amawi's proclivity to watch videos about the situation overseas constituted illegal activity.

Mr. El-Hindi's defense team will continue questioning Mr. Griffin today.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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