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Sparks fly in Padilla sentencing hearing

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Federal agents had Mr. Hassoun and Mr. Jayyousi under surveillance for more than a decade before the government decided to turn its intelligence-gathering operation into a criminal prosecution.

To make their case, prosecutors relied on a broad reading of conspiracy laws. The three men were accused of being members of a North American support cell providing money, equipment, and recruits to militant groups overseas waging what the prosecutors say was "violent jihad." Specifically the three men were charged with conspiring to murder, kidnap, and maim people overseas, conspiring to provide material support for terrorists, and providing material support to terrorists.

No evidence was presented at the trial linking the three men to an actual terrorist plot to conduct a specific bombing or other attack that might result in murder, maiming, or kidnapping. Instead, prosecutors presented a series of secretly recorded telephone calls that they said proved the three men had the necessary intent to help militant groups overseas wage violent jihad. They portrayed Hassoun as a recruiter in the cell, Jayyousi as providing money and logistics, and Padilla as the "star recruit."

Prosecutors presented a "mujahideen data form" that they say Padilla completed prior to attending an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. And they played the jury a tape of a CNN interview with Osama bin Laden – although there is no evidence that the three men had any dealings or connection to Mr. bin Laden.

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