BUFFALO, N.Y. – Prosecutors presented an anti-American tape and an e-mail that appears to mimic Usama bin Laden in arguing against bail Wednesday for six suspected members of an Al Qaeda-trained terror cell.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hochul said the defendants, arrested over the last week, also should remain in jail because some of them claimed tiny net worths while carrying thousands of dollars.
"We feel that the dangerousness to the community and the flight risk are very compelling," Hochul said at a hearing for the men, all U.S. citizens of Yemeni descent charged with providing support or resources to foreign terrorists.
Defense attorneys have moved to dismiss the charges, and planned to argue for their clients' release when the hearing resumed Thursday afternoon.
At their arraignments, U.S. Magistrate H. Kenneth Schroeder entered innocent pleas for Sahim Alwan, 29, Faysal Galab, 26, Shafal Mosed, 24, Yasein Taher, 24, Yahya Goba, 25, and Mukhtar al-Bakri, 22. They could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Five of the men were arrested after a series of weekend raids in Lackawanna, five miles south of Buffalo. The sixth was detained in Bahrain and flown back.
The prosecutor said a July 18 e-mail sent by al-Bakri to an uncharged co-conspirator uses language similar to that used by bin Laden in a December 2001 videotape.
Al-Bakri told investigators the title of the e-mail, "Big Meal," referred to an attack using explosives, Hochul said.
"The next meal will be very huge," reads the e-mail, which was in Arabic. "No one will be able to withstand it except those with faith. There are people here who had vision and their visions will be explained that this thing will be very strong."
A cassette tape found at al-Bakri's last known residence in Lackawanna "asks Allah to give Jews and their enablers [U.S.] a black day," Hochul said. He said other evidence found at the home included a rifle and a telescopic sight.
Other evidence contradicts some of the men's versions of their financial resources, Hochul said. For example, the FBI found $6,400 in cash in a coat pocket at Mosed's house. Mosed told the court he had a net worth of $1,000, Hochul said.
Officials have said they had no evidence of any pending attacks planned by the cell but became alarmed this month when conversations among the men intensified and included indications of a terrorist attack.
Defense attorneys contend the government lacks probable cause to detain their clients. Before the hearing, al-Bakri's lawyer, John Molloy, questioned the strength of the government's case if there are no specific acts federal authorities think are imminent.
Another defense lawyer said they may call witnesses Thursday. About 50 relatives of the defendants filled the courtroom for Wednesday's hearing.
"People in the community -- friends, family, relatives -- are willing to put up their entire life savings, the homes they live in, because they're so confident that these gentlemen are not dangerous to the community," said defense attorney William Clauss, who represents Goba.
Two other suspected cell members, identified as Jaber Elbaneh and Kamal Derwish, are believed to be in Yemen. Authorities say they believe Derwish is the ringleader.
The prosecutor said the defendants and Elbaneh traveled to Pakistan last year for religious training before heading to Afghanistan for instruction by terrorists linked to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network.
The seven men trained near Kandahar at the Al-Farooq training camp -- the same one attended by American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh -- where they were trained in a variety of weapons and given a demonstration in using explosives, Hochul said.