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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2008

Toledo terror trial: Defense attorneys grill FBI agent


Defense attorneys for the three men on trial in U.S. District Court for terrorism-related crimes continued to question one of the FBI agents involved in the investigation, specifically about the instructions given to the government s cooperating witness.

Special Agent Shannon Coats returned to the witness stand Wednesday to answer questions about the FBI s work gathering information in Toledo s Muslim community and the role of Darrin Griffin as a tool.

Attorneys for Marwan El-Hindi, 45, Mohammad Amawi, 28, and Wassim Mazloum, 26, questioned Agent Coats throughout the morning. Among the questions asked was whether Mr. Griffin, who posed as an Islamic extremist in order to gather information, made decisions on his own about how to collect information.

Attorney Steve Hartman, who is representing Mr. El-Hindi, asked whether Agent Coats believed that some of the tactics used by Mr. Griffin went beyond gathering information such as encouraging people to go shooting at an indoor range, telling people he was forming a cell, dominating conversations regarding certain subjects, and leading people to talk about certain things. To each of the inquiries, Agent Coats answered, no.

One of Mr. Amawi s attorneys, Edward Bryan of Cleveland, questioned Agent Coats about the money Mr. Griffin made available to Mr. Amawi throughout the investigation. He asked whether the money was given at times when it suited the FBI s purpose, to which Agent Coats agreed.

In questions from David Doughten, Mr. Mazloum s attorney, Agent Coats acknowledged that no one in the FBI s Toledo office spoke Arabic fluently and that the recordings that involved Arabic would have to be sent elsewhere for translation.

He testified that he was not aware whether the translators were also Muslim.

Agent Coats will return to the witness stand Wednesday afternoon to field additional questions from the government.

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