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Jurors hear Padilla’s voice again in intercepted telephone calls

(APW) Prosecutors played intercepted phone calls in which accused al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla spoke of waiting for an “open door” to what the government claims was participation in jihad. “In case the door opened, you can get in contact with me here,” Padilla says in one call, as he is giving co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun a phone number. In another call from Egypt, where Padilla was studying Arabic, he says, “There was a rumor here that the door was open somewhere.” FBI agent John T. Kavanaugh testified Tuesday that such phrasing was code for “an opportunity to travel to a jihad.” It was among numerous terms many related to sports that Kavanaugh said were used to disguise their conversations. Clubs, the agent said, meant mujahedeen units, and soccer captains were mujahedeen leaders; soccer training was code for jihad training, sports equipment for weaponry. Padilla and Hassoun are on trial with a third man, Kifah Wael Jayyousi, for what prosecutors say was a conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas and to support Islamic extremists. All three have pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys have fought prosecutors’ definitions of Arabic words. They have gone to great lengths to suggest to jurors that jihad is not necessarily a Muslim holy war and that mujahedeen could just as easily be freedom fighters as terrorists. The calls portrayed Hassoun as an adviser to Padilla. Prosecutors say Hassoun recruited Padilla to fight for Islamic extremist causes overseas as part of a North American jihad support network. Hassoun, who was a prominent speaker and fundraiser in South Florida mosques, met Padilla while both were living in Broward County just north of Miami. In one call, Hassoun advises Padilla to “prepare yourself financially” for what Kavanaugh said again was jihad. In another, Hassoun tells Padilla, “I think I prepared you psychologically before you went.” The calls played Tuesday were intercepted before and during Padilla’s trip to Egypt, where he studied Arabic beginning in 1998, a pursuit described as not entirely successful. “His endeavor is limited,” Hassoun is told by caller Mohamed Hesham Youssef in Cairo. “The other students are strong in their studies.” Youssef was indicted in the Miami case but is in custody in Egypt and not part of the trial. Like Padilla, prosecutors say, he was recruited by a North American cell to fight for Muslim extremist causes overseas. Tuesday was the start of the fifth week of testimony in the trial, which is expected to last through August. The three defendants face possible life sentences. Padilla, 36, a former Chicago gang member and Muslim convert, has been in federal custody since his May 2002 arrest at O’Hare International Airport. He was initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” inside the United States and was held for three-and-a-half years at a Navy brig as an enemy combatant, but those allegations are not part of the Miami case.

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June 13, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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