Defense Rests in Bush Plot Trial; Defendant Declines to Testify

An Arab-American accused of joining Al Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush declined to take the stand at his trial Wednesday, and the defense rested its case after putting on just three witnesses.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 24, had testified at a pretrial hearing last month that Saudi authorities tortured a false confession out of him. But he decided not to tell his story in front of a jury.

"He testified at the pretrial hearing and he spilled his guts and he told the truth, and the judge did not believe him," defense attorney Khurrum Wahid said outside court. "He found it to be a very painful experience."

Closing arguments are expected Thursday.

Abu Ali, a U.S. citizen born to a Jordanian father and raised in Falls Church, Va., could get life in prison if convicted.

Before the trial, Abu Ali's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee to dismiss the case and throw out a 2003 statement Abu Ali gave to the Saudis, contending it was obtained through torture.

But the judge had doubts about Abu Ali's credibility and allowed the case to go forward.

The jury saw Abu Ali's alleged confession on video. In it, he said he joined Al Qaeda while attending college in Saudi Arabia because of his hatred of the United States for its support of Israel.

His case rests heavily on the testimony of two doctors who examined him and concluded that he was tortured. Two prosecution doctors reached opposite conclusions.