Trial to begin for 3 Toledoans accused of terrorism

TOLEDO -- The trial of five men accused of plotting to kill troops overseas begins in federal court on March 4, reports News 11's Lisa Rantala.

Three men from Toledo and two cousins from Chicago will face a jury in Toledo. If found guilty, some could face life behind bars.

The case began in February 2006. Federal agents say three Toledo men -- 26-year-old Mohammad Amawi, a citizen of Jordan and the U.S.; 42-year-old Marwan el-Hindi, a naturalized U.s. citizen who was born in Jordan; and 24-year-old Wassim Mazloum, a UT student from Lebanon -- developed an elaborate plan to fight a "Holy War" overseas against U.S. troops in Iraq. Amawi was also accused of threatening to kill President Bush.

Not everyone thinks the men are guilty.

"We're going through a very, very difficult time and I believe if my brother can hear my voice, keep the faith. They have nothing on him. I'm quite sure they have nothing. You're innocent," one Amawi's brothers said.

Some say terrorists can be people we see every day. "These individuals are often hiding in plain sight in cities like Lackawana, Lodi, Torrence and now Toledo," says John Pistole, deputy director of the FBI.

Last April, two pleaded "not guilty" to the plot. Cousins Khaleel and Zubair Ahmed say they didn't do it, though federal agents say the group researched explosives and trained with snipers, surveillance equipment and suicide bomb vests.

U.S. prosecutors say they have one man saying on tape that he wanted to go back overseas and that, "This time if we die, we die."

The trial is expected to take three to four months, after which a local jury will decide if these men are guilty of terror and, therefore, spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Posted by KO