TOLEDO, Ohio – Three men accused of plotting to recruit and train terrorists to attack U.S. and allied troops met only once during the two years an undercover informant investigated them, the informant testified Wednesday.
The informant, Darren Griffin, is the key witness in the case against Mohammad Amawi, Marwan El-Hindi and Wassim Mazloum, who are charged with conspiring to kill or maim people outside the United States.
Griffin, who spent 14 years in the Army before going to work for the FBI, gained the trust of the three by posing as a former soldier who had grown disenchanted with U.S. foreign policy and converted to the Muslim faith. He met with them at a mosque.
Under defense questioning, Griffin testified that as far as he knew the men never practiced shooting guns together or watched training videos together. He said they did do that individually with him.
Amawi's attorney, Timothy Ivey, asked Griffin why he never talked about any e-mails between the defendants. "I only received very few," Griffin said.
Griffin said he never saw any e-mails from the men that discussed plotting to kill soldiers.
Defense attorneys have said Griffin made up the case against the men so that he would keep getting paid as an informant. They said he lied and manipulated the defendants, putting words in their mouths.
Griffin said Wednesday he was the one who arranged and paid for trips to a shooting range so the men could learn how to shoot. Ivey questioned whether Griffin connected the men to create a terrorist cell and pointed out that he was the one who supplied the defendants with books and manuals for training.
"That is not gathering information," Ivey said. "That is supplying information to this case."
Ivey asked Griffin whether he prodded and urged meetings among the defendants that weren't otherwise planned. "I wouldn't use those words," Griffin said.
Griffin testified two weeks ago that one of the defendants sought him out to help train recruits for the plot. He secretly recorded conversations he had with them until they were arrested in February 2006.
According to one recording, Amawi said he was troubled by the loss of life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that it wasn't right because "you live here." But then Amawi added: "Killing Americans in Iraq is OK."
Amawi and El-Hindi are U.S. citizens, and Mazloum came to the U.S. legally from Lebanon. El-Hindi was born in Jordan, and Amawi was born in the U.S. but also has Jordanian citizenship.
They face a maximum of life in prison if convicted.