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The others on trial in Padilla case

The terror case against two of Jose Padilla's codefendants hinges on secretly recorded calls.

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In 1993, several months after a truck-bomb ripped through the basement of the World Trade Center, the US government began listening to the private conversations of a computer programmer in south Florida and an Islamic newsletter publisher in San Diego.

The FBI suspected that the two men, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, might be affiliated with Muslim terrorists. They wanted to find out before more bombs exploded, so agents tapped their phones, recording everything they said.

Now, 14 years and 300,000 secretly recorded conversations later, federal prosecutors say the men should go to prison for the rest of their lives for allegedly plotting with terrorists to murder and maim people.

Defense lawyers for both men counter with a question: If Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi are so dangerous, why did the government wait so long to file charges? Despite the surveillance, Jayyousi went on to work as a senior administrator in the public school systems in Detroit and Washington, D.C.

Hassoun, Jayyousi, and suspected Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla are on trial in a Miami federal courtroom for allegedly providing money, equipment, and recruits to various Islamic terrorist groups waging violent jihad overseas.

This week, prosecutors are expected to begin presenting to the jury English translations of thousands of hours of intercepted conversations in Arabic. Jurors will hear discussions allegedly related to Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Somalia, and Lebanon.

Lawyers for Hassoun and Jayyousi say their clients are being targeted for prosecution, not for any violence they planned or carried out, but because they were outspoken members of the Muslim-American community who held political and religious beliefs unpopular in the US.

Prosecutors say they formed a support cell for Islamic terror.

Of the 300,000 recorded calls, prosecutors have selected 123 for possible use as evidence at the trial. Of those, 53 are mentioned in the indictment.

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