Department of Justice Seal

Press Conference by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Ohio Terrorism Indictments

Washington, DC
February 22, 2006 - 1:30 PM

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Good afternoon. I'm joined by FBI Deputy Director John Pistole, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Greg White, and Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher of the Criminal Division.

The Justice Department is charging Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Wassim Mazloum with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts against persons or individuals overseas and with providing material support to terrorists. Their efforts to engage in this type of violent jihad or holy war occurred in Toledo, Ohio over the last year. Amawi is also charged with two counts of making verbal threats against the President.

Let me be clear about why criminal charges such as these are important in our fight against terrorism. We cannot wait until an attack happens. 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.

As alleged in the indictment, these defendants have been living in the United States where they have been engaging in weapons training and seeking to provide help in order to kill people abroad, including our troops.

Further, as alleged, all three defendants discussed training, making or manufacturing or using Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs. Amawi engaged in an instructional session on the construction and use of IEDs and timing devices. Amawi stated that his aim was to target U.S. military assets. As we know, one of the greatest dangers to our men and women fighting overseas in Iraq is the IED.

Let me give you a snapshot of their efforts to wage violent jihad against the United States:

The three defendants educated themselves on how to make and use explosives and suicide bomb vests. The materials included both plastic explosives and nitroglycerine.

The three carried out their own jihad military exercises, which included the use of firearms and the shooting of weapons; one sought mortar training.

The three defendants also conspired to provide material support, including money, training, communications equipment, computers or personnel, including themselves, to co-conspirators in the Middle East.

The three also planned to use a business to justify travel to Iraq and conspired to establish a dummy nonprofit tax education organization to raise funds for the jihad.

Amawi also downloaded a video from a mujahideen website which included step-by-step instruction on how to use a suicide bomb vest and passed this information on to another individual. Amawi also made verbal threats to kill or inflict bodily harm against the President of the United States.

If convicted of the most serious charges of conspiring to kill or maim people outside of the United States, the defendants could receive sentences of up to life in prison. I should point out that this is an indictment, and that the defendants have not yet been convicted of a crime.

Individuals who aid terrorists from within our borders threaten the safety of all Americans. And this case stands as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance in the war on terrorism. We are committed to protecting Americans, here and overseas, particularly the brave men and 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.

President Bush summarized our situation well during his recent remarks to the National Guard when he stated, "We are safer ... but we're not yet safe. America remains at risk -- so we must remain vigilant. We will stay on the offenses, we will hunt down the terrorists, and we will never rest until this threat to the American people is removed."

I want to conclude by thanking the FBI and the Toledo Joint Terrorism Task Force for their hard work on this case.