Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's getting hot in here

Apparently it got so contentious yesterday in the Jose Padilla trial that Judge Cooke had to call a timeout for the witness and the lawyers. Here's the AP:

But Awad, in a heated exchange with Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier, said the money raised at the Florida mosque and elsewhere was not intended to fund terrorists. Awad drew a distinction between terrorism and Islamic mujahedeen who were fighting in defense of Muslims in places like Chechnya, Bosnia and Somalia.
"The mujahedeen were fighting, and in fighting there is killing," Awad testified. "The mujahedeen are honorable people. Terrorists are people who have no goal but to maim and kill."

There were several tense exchanges during cross-examination between Awad and Frazier, including one instance when Awad raised his voice and said people who commit atrocities against Muslims "should be killed and taken to justice."
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke sent the jury out of the room at that point and told Awad to keep his cool.

More from the Sun-Sentinel:

To federal prosecutors, he is the central figure in a South Florida terror support cell.But Adham Amin Hassoun's lawyers claim their client, a former Sunrise computer programmer, was a philanthropist, not a terrorist.Both sides pushed their positions Tuesday in Miami federal court during heated testimony from the former imam of the Fort Lauderdale mosque that Hassoun and his co-defendant Jose Padilla attended in the mid-1990s.
The questioning grew so contentious, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke twice asked jurors to step out of the courtroom so the imam and the attorneys could cool off.

Touching on what has been a hot-button issue in the case, Awad insisted those who resort to violence to protect Muslim communities from oppression or ethnic cleansing should not be considered terrorists."I would really appreciate if you do not imply mujahideen and terrorists are the same," Awad told Frazier. "The mujahideen are honorable people. ... Terrorists are people who have no aim and no goal but to maim and kill."
"We are required by our religion, by our faith, to help people in need, to help people under attack," Awad said."Did you ever preach an obligation to support mujahideen fighters?" Frazier asked."Mujahideen are people who are defending themselves," Awad said."The answer is yes?" Frazier pressed."No, the answer is no," Awad said.

Although Padilla's lawyers didn't ask any questions of this witness, Padilla was mentioned:

Awad said he bought an airline ticket to Cairo, Egypt, for Padilla with money collected from mosque members. Padilla was moving to the Middle East to study Islam and Arabic, Awad said.

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