Jurors: Feds had no case in terror trial

Nov. 22, 2004 at 2:10 PM
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MOSCOW, Idaho, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Jurors in the trial of Sami al-Hussayen in U.S. District Court in Idaho did not buy the government's case he provided material support to terrorist activity.

"There was no direct connection in the evidence they gave us -- and we had boxes and boxes to go through -- between Sami (al-Hussayen) and terrorism," juror Clair Ingraham told the Seattle Times.

"There was not a word spoken that indicated he supported terrorism. It was a real stretch," said juror John Steger. "It made me feel bad the federal government had this guy in jail for a year and they didn't have better evidence. In two or three hours we voted him not guilty on all three."

Al-Hussayen, who Attorney General John Ashcroft said was part of "a terrorist threat to Americans that is fanatical and ... fierce," was arrested in Moscow, Idaho, in February 2003 and charged with providing material support to terrorism for his volunteer work on the Web site of the Islamic Assembly of North America while he studied for a Ph.D. in computer science. He spent 1 1/2 years in jail before being acquitted in June and returned to Saudi Arabia in July under an agreement reached with the federal government.

"This case really stood the normal order of business on its head. The typical situation would be a crime gets committed and you go and find the people you think committed it. In this situation they instead focused on people they were suspicious of and set about trying to prove they had indeed committed a crime," said al-Hussayen's attorney, David Nevin.

The government collected 20,000 e-mail messages and recorded more than 9,000 of al-Hussayen's phone calls in its attempt to collect evidence proving its case.

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