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Attorney General: Indictments Emphasize Need for Vigilance

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2006 – The U.S. attorney general called today's indictment of three Ohio men who conspired to kill U.S. citizens overseas, particularly military forces in Iraq, another indication that the United States must remain vigilant in fighting terrorism.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced indictments against three men he said were part of a terrorist conspiracy that has operated in Toledo, Ohio, over the past year.

Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum were indicted in the U.S. District Court in Ohio.

The three were charged with "conspiracy to commit terrorist acts against persons or individuals overseas and with providing material support to terrorists," Gonzales said during a news conference here today.

The three defendants actively supported a jihad, or holy war, against the U. S., the attorney general said. They educated themselves on how to make and use explosive and suicide-bomb vests and conducted their own jihad military training exercises, including weapons training. One attempted to get mortar training.

All three defendants conspired to provide money, training, communications equipment, computers and personnel, including themselves, to terrorists in the Middle East, Gonzales said. They planned to use a business to justify travel to Iraq, and conspired to establish a dummy nonprofit tax education organization to raise money for their cause.

Amawi downloaded a video from a Web site that provided step-by-step instructions on how to use a suicide bomb vest, and passed the information on to another person, the attorney general said. He also threatened to kill or hurt President Bush, Gonzales said.

If convicted of the most serious charges against them, the defendants could receive sentences of up to life in prison, he said.

Gonzales said the United States has strong cases against all three defendants, but he emphasized that they have not yet been convicted of any crime.

Today's indictments underscore the importance of the criminal justice system in fighting terrorism and the need to catch terrorists early, he said. "We cannot wait until an attack happens," Gonzales said. "We will continue to use our criminal laws as Congress intended, to charge individuals once they conspire to provide support to terrorism or conspire to kill abroad."

The indictments drive home the point that terrorist supporters are operating within the U. S. and that the nation must remain on high alert to stop them before they act, the attorney general said.

"This case stands as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance in the war on terrorism," he said. "America remains at risk, so we must remain vigilant. We will stay on the offense. We will hunt down the terrorists and we will never rest until this threat to the American people is removed."

The United States remains committed to protecting its citizens, "particularly the brave men of women of the U.S. armed forces who are serving our country and striving valiantly to preserve democracy and the rule of law in Iraq," Gonzales said.

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Alberto Gonzales

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