WASHINGTON -- Three Ohio residents, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 29, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 46, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 28, have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from more than 8 years to 20 years for conspiring to commit terrorist acts against Americans overseas, including U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and other terrorism-related violations.
The sentences, which were handed down yesterday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge James G. Carr in the Northern District of Ohio, were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Stephen M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Judge Carr sentenced Amawi to a term of 20 years incarceration followed by life on supervised release. El-Hindi was sentenced to a term of 13 years incarceration, including 12 years for the terror violations and 18 months for a separate fraud conviction. Mazloum received a sentence of 100 months or 8.3 years incarceration followed by life on supervised release.
In February 2007, Amawi, El-Hindi, and Mazloum were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States, including U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq, and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Amawi and El-Hindi were also charged individually with distributing information regarding the manufacture or use of explosives, including suicide bomb vests and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
On June 13, 2008, a jury convicted the defendants on all counts. Amawi, a citizen of Jordan and the United States, and El Hindi, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Jordan, were each convicted of one count of conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States, one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, and two counts of distributing information on explosives. Mazloum, a U.S. legal permanent resident from Lebanon, was convicted of one count of conspiring to kill or maim persons outside the United States and one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The convictions represented the nation’s first successful trial of a "homegrown terror cell" for terrorism related crimes.
At trial, the government proved that all three defendants engaged in a conspiracy, beginning sometime prior to June 2004, to kill or maim persons outside the United States, including U.S. armed forces personnel in Iraq. As part of the conspiracy, the defendants conducted firearms training and accessed and copied instructions in the construction and use of explosives – including IEDs and suicide bomb vests. In addition, the defendants conspired to recruit others to participate in jihad training; researched and solicited funding sources for such training; and proposed sites for training in firearms, explosives and hand-to-hand combat to prospective recruits.
The government also proved that all defendants conspired to provide material support and resources, including personnel, money, explosives and laptop computers, to terrorists, including a co-conspirator in the Middle East, who had requested such materials for use against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. For example, among other activities, Amawi communicated with a contact in the Middle East on chemical explosives and traveled to Jordan in August 2005 with laptop computers intended for delivery to mujahideen "brothers."
The government also proved that Amawi knowingly distributed a guide describing the step-by-step process for manufacturing chemical explosive compounds, as well as a video entitled, "Martyrdom Operation Vest Preparation," which described the step-by-step construction and use of a suicide bomb vest. Amawi distributed these materials with the intent that they be used for training others to commit a crime of violence, including the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.
The government further proved that El-Hindi knowingly distributed a slide show demonstrating the preparation and use of IEDs against apparent U.S. military vehicles and personnel, as well as the video entitled "Martyrdom Operation Vest Preparation." El-Hindi distributed these materials with the intent that they be used for training others to commit a crime of violence, including the killing of U.S. nationals overseas.
Assistant Attorney General Kris, U.S. Attorney Dettelbach and Special Agent in Charge Figliuzzi thanked the many different agencies that worked on this case. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Toledo, Ohio, with support from the FBI in Chicago, and with the assistance of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division; the U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Ohio Highway Patrol; the Toledo Police Department; and the Lucas and Wood County Sheriff’s Departments.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas E. Getz and Justin E. Herdman of the National Security Unit of the U.S Attorney’s Office in Cleveland, as well Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg N. Sofer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Austin, Texas, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David I. Miller of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, (both formerly of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section) and Trial Attorney Jerome J. Teresinski of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit also provided assistance in this case.