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Published: Wednesday, 5/21/2008

Last witness for prosecution takes stand in Toledo terror trial

BLADE STAFF

The final witness in the government s case against three local men charged with terrorism-related crimes testified in U.S. District Court Wednesday about the various jihadist Web sites accessed by the defendants.

Evan Kuhlmann, 29, of New York City, testified about his extensive background in accessing various Web sites of terrorist organizations and insurgency groups as part of his research as a consultant on counter-terrorism issues. Specifically, he testified about a forum accessed by Mohammad Amawi where numerous videos could be viewed including one showing the preparation of a suicide bomb vest.

The site, entitled Muntada Al Ansar or the Al Ansar Forum, could only be accessed by those with usernames and passwords, Mr. Kuhlmann testified. He added that the site only allowed new registrations a few times over the years of the investigation.

Mr. Amawi, 28, Marwan El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim Mazloum, 26, are each charged with planning to wage a "holy war" overseas 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 serving in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as providing "support and resources" to terrorists.

Mr. Amawi and Mr. El-Hindi, who have both remained in federal custody since their arrests, are also charged with "distributing information regarding explosives."

Using recordings of the defendants already in evidence, the government asked Mr. Kuhlmann to identify Mr. Amawi and later, Mr. El-Hindi, discussing videos and information taken from the Muntada Al Ansar Web site.

Mr. Kuhlmann also reviewed the analysis of Mr. Amawi s computer drives and testified that the jihadist Web sites were accessed by Mr. Amawi when they were operational and that when the Web site was down, other sites were accessed in its place.

He also testified that Mr. El-Hindi s computer accessed other jihadist Web sites, some of which also required a username and password to enter.

The testimony offered jurors a more complete picture on the nature of the Web sites that had been entered as evidence in the trial as well as more information about how to access them.

Defense attorneys will have an opportunity to question Mr. Kuhlmann before the government rests its case.



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