Imam testifies in terror trial

July 24, 2007 at 11:10 PM   |   Comments

MIAMI, July 24 (UPI) -- A former imam at a South Florida mosque said Tuesday that a terror suspect did not -- to his knowledge -- solicit money for Islamic extremist groups.

Speaking on behalf of the defense, Raed Awad said Adham Hassoun was a devout Muslim who participated in many activities at the mosque in Sunrise, Fla. Awad said Hassoun delivered the occasional sermon, and was a generous benefactor of Muslim charities.

Prosecutors sought to portray the imam's close friend, Hassoun, in a decidedly different light, however, questioning whether the terror suspect raised money to arm Muslims in places like Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier's inquiries about whether Muslims were obligated to support mujahadin evoked the ire of Awad, who offered a fiery explanation about the difference between those who fight for the rights of oppressed Muslims and those who attack civilians, characterized by the witness as "terrorists who should be killed."

"Islam does not support terrorism" or those who would "use weapons of mass destruction," Awad said testily while raising his voice in response to Frazier's question.

"The problem with the West is that it has very little knowledge about Islam," he added later in his testimony.

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