A federal judge is scheduled to announce tomorrow whether the jury in the terrorism case against University of Idaho graduate student Sami Omar Hussayen can hear testimony from two American men, one of whom pleaded guilty to training with an alleged Virginia "jihad network."
U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge will rule on prosecutors' contention that the jury should hear from the men because they were persuaded to train as terrorists in 2001 by material posted on Internet sites linked to Hussayen. The government has accused Hussayen of using his computer skills to provide support for terrorism.
"These witnesses can show the jury that these materials really do have that effect," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Lindquist said. Defense attorney David Nevin countered that both men were recruited by others to fight in Afghanistan, not by Internet materials about Chechnya and the Middle East.
Hussayen, 34, a Saudi national, is accused of turning the Web site of the Islamic Assembly of North America into the foundation of an Internet network that helped finance and recruit terrorists. He contends he was just a volunteer lending his technical skills to keep the assembly's Web sites running.
Lodge dismissed the jury early Thursday so he could hear the testimony that would be provided by Khwaja Mahmood Hasan of Fairfax and Yahya Goba of Buffalo. Hasan was sentenced to 11 years in prison on a variety of charges after admitting he practiced military tactics while playing paintball in the Virginia countryside, gatherings the government said were part of training for combat overseas. Goba trained at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in May 2001.
Prosecutors contend both men saw videos of Muslim fighting in Bosnia and Chechnya, which played key roles in their decision to train to fight in Afghanistan. But the defense pointed to sworn statements in which each declared he was recruited by specific individuals. The statements made no mention of the Internet or videos obtained from it.
Goba acknowledged that he did not even have access to the Internet before he went to the Afghan camp, and Hasan has said his decision to train for holy war was made four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks during a meeting in Fairfax with Muslim scholar Ali Timimi, who said Islam required them to defend the Taliban against the imminent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.