By Associated Press
Thursday, May 20, 2004
BOISE, Idaho - A terrorism expert testified Wednesday that Internet postings attributed to a terrorism defendant were published to recruit and encourage financial support for terrorists.
But under cross-examination, the prosecution witness, Reuven Paz, acknowledged that he published some of the same information on his own Web site without being prosecuted, pointing out the difficulty in labeling people and activities as terrorist.
``For some people, terrorists are terrorists, and for others, terrorists are freedom fighters,'' said Paz, an Israeli. ``It depends on where you stand.''
Paz differentiated between his publication of the information, some of it extolling suicide bombings, and its publication on Web sites of the Islamic Assembly of North America. His use of the material was solely for the purposes of academic research into militant Islamic groups, he said.
The government claims defendant Sami Omar Al-Hussayen used his skills to turn the assembly Web sites into the foundation of an Internet network that disseminated information to foster terrorism, particularly in the Middle East and Chechnya.
Paz was called by the government in an effort to complete the link it says exists between Al-Hussayen and terror.
Over the past five weeks, the government has relied on technical experts to tie Al-Hussayen, a University of Idaho graduate student and Saudi national, to dozens of inflammatory Internet postings. The government is seeking to convince jurors that such news articles are used by terrorist leaders to strengthen their war chests and their ranks.
Besides the terrorism charges, Al-Hussayen is accused of visa fraud and making false statements for allegedly trying to hide his association with the assembly.
The defense maintains Al-Hussayen was only a volunteer who used his computer skills to keep assembly Internet operations going.