Potential jurors in a federal terrorism trial are being asked if they believe Islam endorses violence more than other religions and whether they have close friends from the Middle East.
Questions about their views on Islam and the Middle East, as well as some city mosques, are some of the queries posed at jurors in the upcoming trial of Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed in federal court in Brooklyn.
The defendants are accused of plotting to give help to the terror groups al-Qaida and Hamas. Undercover federal operatives caught them on video and audio tapes allegedly discussing plans to funnel millions of dollars to the groups.
Al-Moayad and Zayed have denied wrongdoing and claim they were manipulated and entrapped by the government. Al-Moayad said he ran a number of charities in Yemen.
U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson released the blank 43-page juror questionnaire yesterday after Newsday and other members of the news media requested the document.
About 270 potential jurors filled in the questionnaire and will be asked in the next few days about their responses as part of the process to select an anonymous panel. Opening statements are expected Jan. 25.
Potential jurors are being asked if they view Islam as a violence-prone religion because of recent poll results, said Jonathan Marks, who is representing Zayed. Marks pointed to a recent Cornell University survey showing that 65 percent of self-described highly religious people said they view Islam as encouraging violence more than other religions do.
“We are trying to weed out the jurors who have been against Muslim people,” he said. Al-Moayad, 56, is a Muslim cleric from Yemen and Zayed, 31, was his assistant.