TOLEDO, Ohio – Four men pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that they plotted to recruit and train terrorists to attack U.S. and allied troops overseas.
Zubair A. Ahmed, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi and Wassim I. Mazloum are accused of conspiring to kill or maim people outside the United States, including military personnel in Iraq.
A fifth man, Khaleel Ahmed, 26, pleaded not guilty to similar charges last month. He and Zubair Ahmed, 27, are cousins from Chicago. Amawi, El-Hindi and Mazloum live in Ohio. All are U.S. citizens except Mazloum, who entered the U.S. legally from Lebanon.
The five allegedly sought recruits and sites for training in firearms, hand-to-hand combat and the use of explosives, according to the indictment. They also are accused of agreeing to raise funds for training and downloading Internet information on improvised explosive devices.
Prosecutors said Khaleel and Zubair Ahmed met at a Muslim convention in Cleveland in 2004 with El-Hindi and a former U.S. military man who helped foil the plot.
The five men face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of conspiring to kill Americans overseas, according to federal prosecutors.
Steve Hartman, El-Hindi's attorney, said his client has maintained his innocence from the beginning. Hartman said the government's informant overreached and instigated the investigation.
"I think he created a vast majority of this case," Hartman said.
The three men from the Toledo area were arraigned on new charges filed by federal prosecutors two months ago. They were first arrested in February 2006.
The three were charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Amawi also was charged with verbally threatening the president of the United States and unlawful distribution of a video about suicide bomber vests.
Amawi and El-Hindi also were charged with distributing information about explosive chemicals downloaded from the Internet.
A detention hearing for Khaleel and Zubair Ahmed was set for Tuesday afternoon.