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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Toledo Terror Trial: FBI agent testifies about arrest interview, evidence collection

BLADE STAFF

One of the federal officers who participated in the arrest of Mohammad Amawi in Jordan in February, 2006, testified in U.S. District Court Wednesday about the interview and evidence collected.

Special Agent Steven Gubanich spent much of the morning testifying about the files found on the computer drives and discs provided by Mr. Amawi to the government s confidential informant, Darren Griffin.

Mr. Amawi, 28, has duel American and Jordanian citizenship and was with family overseas at the time of his arrest on several terrorism-related charges. Mr. Amawi, Marwan El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim Mazloum, 26, are each charged with conspiring 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.

Using a chart made up by the FBI to catalogue the files downloaded by Mr. Amawi, Agent Gubanich testified about the numerous files depicting "improvised explosive attacks and rocket attacks and missile attacks" as well as multiple training sessions, including weapons training and self-defense techniques.

"There were a variety of shooting and improvised explosive attacks as well as some executions," Agent Gubanich said.

As part of his direct examination by federal prosecutors, Agent Gubanich testified finding files that showed how to create an explosive material called "black powder," how to create a rudimentary detonating device, as well as the 29-minute video that showed how to create and detonate a bomb vest video.

Prior to the testimony, Judge James Carr reminded the jury of nine men and seven women including four alternates that the evidence about what was found on discs given to Mr. Griffin by Mr. Amawi could only be considered as evidence pertaining to Mr. Amawi and not the other two defendants.

Agent Gubanich will face additional questions including inquiries by the team of defense attorneys Wednesday afternoon.

(From earlier editions of toledoblade.com)

By ERICA BLAKE

BLADE STAFF WRITER

In his initial interview with members of the area's Joint Terrorism Task Force, Marwan El-Hindi denied recruiting, training, or planning for violent jihad overseas.

Special Agent Charles Holloway from the Sandusky office of the FBI provided that testimony in U.S. District Court yesterday as the 10th witness in the government's case against three local men charged with terrorism-related crimes.

Mr. Holloway testified that Mr. El-Hindi was interviewed by three members of the task force over a period of about 3 1/2 hours on Feb. 19, 2006. He said Mr. El-Hindi was advised of the nature of the charges and after he was given about 10 minutes to pray - as he requested - he was interviewed about allegations that he conspired to kill, maim, or injure U.S. soldiers overseas.

Mr. El-Hindi, 45, Mohammad Amawi, 28, and Wassim Mazloum, 26, are charged with planning to wage holy war using skills they learned on the Internet. Mr. Amawi and Mr. El-Hindi also are charged with distributing information regarding explosives.

Among the questions Mr. El-Hindi was asked during the interview was whether he ever discussed violent jihad, had downloaded training material from the Internet, and had ever discussed going to Iraq.

Agent Holloway testified yesterday that Mr. El-Hindi denied involvement in each.

"He specifically indicated that there were no discussions between [himself and Mr. Amawi] about traveling to Iraq," Mr. Holloway said, adding that Mr. El-Hindi said there were no discussions about firearms training, roadside bombs, tactical issues, or explosives.

During the last 17 days of trial - mostly dominated by the testimony of the government's confidential informant, Darren Griffin - the government has presented recorded evidence of the three defendants talking about the political situation in Iraq and the desire to train. Mr. El-Hindi was also charged with downloading an e-mail that showed a pictorial sequence on how to place and detonate a roadside bomb.

Steve Hartman, representing Mr. El-Hindi, questioned Agent Holloway about whether the lengthy interview was recorded. Agent Holloway said it was not, and that it was not unusual for them not to be.

Also testifying was a retired FBI agent once in charge of Darren Griffin's activities as a confidential informant for the government. Retired Special Agent William Radcliffe testified about Mr. Griffin's instructions to "meet certain subjects" in "different locations." He admitted that the government, through Mr. Griffin, was "attempting to find out if there were individuals out there looking to train."

The 16 members of the jury - 12 trial jurors and four alternates - heard only a half-day of testimony yesterday in what is expected to be a three-month trial. The government is expected to call its 12th witness today.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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