Attorney Says Phone Calls Show That Charity, Not Terrorism, Drove Padilla Co-Defendant - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Attorney Says Phone Calls Show That Charity, Not Terrorism, Drove Padilla Co-Defendant

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MIAMI (AP) _ The lead FBI investigator in the terrorism support case against Jose Padilla and others conceded Friday that a translator said a relief effort could have been the subject of an intercepted phone call that prosecutors allege refers to violent jihad.

Agent John T. Kavanaugh, however, insisted that ``tourism'' was a code word for ``jihad'' in recorded conversations involving Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi. The translator _ one of many who interpreted recordings in English _ ``didn't have the advantage I had of reviewing all the materials,'' he said.

Hassoun's attorney Ken Swartz cross-examined Kavanaugh in an attempt to show that his client was trying to help Muslims in war-torn countries, not support Islamic extremists.

Swartz noted an intercepted call from May 10, 1997, in which Hassoun referred to touring, but was talking about fundraising efforts for oppressed Muslims. The attorney also noted at least one translator hired by the FBI gave a broader definition.

``The translator says that tourism could be some kind of jihad or could be some relief effort?'' Swartz asked the agent.

``That's what he said, yes sir,'' Kavanaugh replied, though he dismissed the translator's definition.

Translations of the intercepted calls are contentious. Defense attorneys have fought prosecutors' definitions of Arabic words, including mujahadeen, which they say could just as easily be freedom fighters as terrorists.

Padilla, Hassoun and Jayyousi are accused of being part of a North American support cell for Islamic extremists in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and elsewhere. They have pleaded not guilty and face life in prison if convicted.

Padilla was initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive ``dirty bomb'' in the U.S., but those allegations are not a part of this case. He was held for 3 1/2 years at a Navy brig as an enemy combatant.

Swartz said many of the personal checks Hassoun wrote to Islamic charities included memos such as ``Chechnya'' and ``Kosovo'' and were meant to provide relief to civilians in those places. He noted prosecutors omitted clips from a 1998 call played Tuesday that illustrated the point.

``They need imams for the mosques, they need people to work in the medical field and such, you know?'' Hassoun said on the call, according to the FBI's translation. ``It is of priority that the Muslims be present there to help their Muslim brothers.''

Prosecutors ended their questioning of Kavanaugh on Thursday. Attorneys for each of the three defendants are now taking turns cross-examining him.

Friday marked the end of the fifth week of testimony in the trial, which is expected to last through August.
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