Local Reaction to Terrorism Indictments

TOLEDO -- Imagine learning that your neighbors have been arrested on terrorism-related charges. For people in three different neighborhoods in the Toledo area, that's the reality they faced Tuesday. They expressed shock at the news, and Mayor Finkbeiner and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur also shared their reactions with News 11.

The reactions come on the heels of a federal grand jury's indictment of three Toledo-area men for terrorist activities. At a news conference Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the indictment. Prosecutors say the three conspired to wage a "holy war" against the United States and coalition forces in the Middle East. If convicted on the most serious charges, the suspects could be sentenced to life in prison.

According to the indictment, the suspects are Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Wassim Mazloum.

Amawi is a citizen of the US, and also a citizen of Jordan. El-Hindi is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Jordan. Mazloum is a legal permanent resident of the US, who came here from Lebanon.

An apartment complex on Shaftsbury Drive near Hill Avenue is registered to Amawi. Investigators are not saying where he was actually arrested.

Mazloum was reportedly living in Sylvania in a home on Grey Drive, near Alexis and Monroe. Neighbors said investigators stormed the scene Sunday morning. A neighbor told News 11 the Mazloum family was very quiet and kept to themselves.

El-Hindi lived in north Toledo on Suder Avenue. Neighbors say federal authorities raided the home Sunday morning. They also say the El-Hindi family has been very private since moving into the neighborhood about a year ago. They say the family put up "no trespassing" signs on their property and kept to themselves. According to neighbors, up to five young children lived at the El-Hindi home, but the place has been quiet since the raid on Sunday.

All three neighborhoods where the suspects lived have their share of crime and other activity, but for the most part residents aren't used to anything major. Until now.

News 11 spoke with the folks who live directly across the street from El-Hindi's house. Dave Snouffer said, "It amazes me that somebody would try and hide themselves in Toledo, Ohio, to do those things." Bonnie Snouffer added, "It makes it more believable that people like that really do exist. It's just sad. They could have had a beautiful life here, and they chose the opposite."

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner asks the community not to unfairly lump others into the same category as those who are charged in the case. He says he's worried people could react against others because of their ethnicity or religion. He cautions Toledoans to stay above the rush to judgement.

Mayor Finkbeiner urges Toledoans to care even more than they did yesterday about the things we all have in common. He asks the public to "move forward with renewed energy and commitment" so that we might live happily, peacefully, and productively together. He says this will call even more attention to keeping our community safe and together. He also commends authorities and citizens who helped with the case.

Ninth District Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur also reacted to the charges. "This is a community that is very tolerant," she said, "but also one with eyes and ears out on the street. Hopefully this can be resolved quickly."

Congresswoman Kaptur says the community needs to realize the three are innocent until proven guilty.