Padilla co-defendant rests case
Padilla co-defendant rests case
By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 37 minutes ago
Defense lawyers rested their case Wednesday for one of Jose Padilla's co-defendants in their trial on terrorism support charges, clearing the way for a third defendant's attorneys to begin questioning a handful of remaining witnesses.
Padilla's attorneys have already told U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke they plan to call no witnesses in his defense. The case, now in its 12th week of testimony, could go to the jury within the next two weeks.
Two former co-workers of Adham Amin Hassoun, 45 — purportedly Padilla's recruiter for Islamic extremist causes — testified briefly Wednesday about his job as a computer programmer for a firm in Broward County, Fla. Neither was questioned about his alleged support for Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida.
"Your honor, we rest," said Hassoun lawyer Kenneth Swartz after calling seven witnesses since July 23.
The spotlight then shifted to Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 45, an engineer and former schools administrator in Detroit also accused of being part of the terror support cell. His defense is likely to take only a couple of days, said attorney William Swor.
All three defendants face life in prison if convicted on all counts, which include conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas.
Padilla, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen, was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest on suspicion of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" inside the U.S. That designation was dropped in late 2005 when he was added to the Miami terror support case, which does not include the "dirty bomb" allegations.
The bulk of the prosecution's case consists of thousands of FBI wiretap intercepts, mostly of conversations involving Hassoun, Jayyousi or both. Padilla is heard on only seven calls, with the chief evidence against him a form he purportedly completed in 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.
Jayyousi, a Navy veteran and naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan, is accused of providing finances and supplies to violent Islamic groups fighting in Chechnya, Bosnia and elsewhere. During the mid-1990s, he published a newsletter called the Islam Report that prosecutors claim was a propaganda tool for these groups.
But the defense paints an entirely different picture — that of a man of accomplishment who worked in several sensitive jobs, including a company with contracts to retrofit propulsion systems on Navy ships and a construction firm that built military bases in Egypt and Qatar.
Khalil Saab, chief of international operations at Sorensen Gross Construction Co. of Flint, Mich., testified his firm hired Jayyousi in 2003 as a consultant on military projects in Cairo, Egypt, and Qatar that were overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Jayyousi had regular access to the military bases, he said.
Saab said he spoke with FBI agents on two occasions after Jayyousi told him he was under investigation and was told nothing to indicate any terror connections.
"If I knew he had connections to any terrorist organization he would not have worked for us at all," Saab testified.
Another Jayyousi associate, retired Navy officer John Lasswell, told the jury that he and Jayyousi worked together in the late 1980s for an engineering company on the Navy retrofitting contract. This meant that Jayyousi had security clearances to board the ships, Lasswell said.
As an employee, Lasswell described Jayyousi as "outstanding. A ball of fire. A manager's dream." But he was asked no questions about any alleged extremist activities.
Testimony by Jayyousi defense witnesses was scheduled to continue Thursday.