NEW YORK – In the first known indictment resulting from the Sept. 11 terrorism investigation, prosecutors revealed that they will try a Jordanian student linked to the hijackers for attempting "to levy war against the United States."
A Manhattan grand jury decided there was enough evidence that Osama Awadallah of California was connected to the terror attacks to bring the 21-year-old to trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. It is the first publicly released indictment in connection with the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorism investigation.
Awadallah, a student at Grossmont College in La Mesa, Calif., knew two of the hijackers who attacked the Pentagon, and he possessed photographs of Usama bin Laden, the grand jury found.
Among the offenses being investigated by the grand jury, prosecutors said, were "seditious conspiracy to levy war against the United States," a conspiracy to destroy aircraft, and a bombing conspiracy. So far, the grand jury has returned two perjury counts against Awadallah, charging him with lying about his association with hijackers Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Khalid Al-Mihdhar.
The indictments were returned Wednesday and made public Thursday.
According to the indictment, a search of Awadallah's car after he was taken into custody in September produced videotapes titled Martyrs of Bosnia, Bosnia 1993 and The Koran v. the Bible, Which is God's Word?; a search of Awadallah's apartment yielded computer-generated photographs of bin Laden.
A search of a car registered to Al-Hazmi and found at Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., produced a piece of paper on which was written "OSAMA" and a seven-digit phone number. Combined with the San Diego area's 619 area code, that number turned out to Awadallah's old phone number.
Prosecutors said Awadallah identified Al-Hazmi in photographs during testimony Oct. 10, saying he saw him 35 to 40 times in the San Diego area between April 2000 and last January.
But they said he denied knowing Al-Mihdhar or writing his first name "Khalid" in an exam booklet in a college class. During testimony five days later, Awadallah said the writing was his, but could not identify Al-Mihdhar in a photograph, the government alleged.
In court papers, prosecutors said Al-Hazmi was accompanied by Al-Mihdhar a number of times, including at the gas station where Awadallah worked in the San Diego area.
Jesse Berman, Awadallah's lawyer, called the materials found in his client's car and apartment "window dressing" by prosecutors desperate to build a case.
"It's obviously not a crime. It doesn't mean anything. It catches the eye of people who want to find something where there's not something seriously criminal."
Berman also said his client, having identified one hijacker, had no reason to lie about another.
"He just wasn't sure on that name," Berman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.