Background on Kifah Wael Jayyousi, formerly an official with Detroit and Washington, D.C.’s public schools, can be found here and here. “Witness: Islamic charity work suspicious,” by Curt Anderson for the Associated Press:
MIAMI –A Muslim convert testified Tuesday that he grew suspicious and distanced himself from the leader of an Islamic charity after an associate returned from war-torn Chechnya with part of a leg missing from a land mine explosion.
Jeremy Collins, 33, said he worked at American Worldwide Relief that was headed by Kifah Wael Jayyousi, who is on trial along with alleged al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla and an another man on charges of contributing to Muslim extremist causes worldwide. All three face life in prison if convicted.
“It was just chaos. There was no relief work,” Collins said he learned from his
associate. “There seemed to be more fighting than relief work.”
Collins’ testimony focuses on Jayyousi’s years in San Diego, well before Padilla, a U.S. citizen held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant, came on the scene.
Questions about the organization also were raised when the group’s $20,000 satellite telephone was shut down in early 1996 at the request of the Russian government, said Collins, who was the organization’s then-vice president.
The Russians claimed it was being used by Chechen rebels, who are attempting to break free from Russian rule and set up an Islamic state.
“How did a phone get into rebel hands, and get shut off and not reinstated?” Collins said he thought at the time.
Along with his relief organization, Jayyousi, 45, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan, was head of another group that published a newsletter called the Islam Report. Prosecutors say the American Islamic Group’s newsletter was a propaganda and fundraising tool for radical causes, which Jayyousi has denied.
Every issue included a “theaters of jihad” section recounting armed struggles around the world and usually had editorials written by Jayyousi on subjects such as a trial of blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life prison sentence for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Egypt’s president.
But Jayyousi attorney William Swor sought to counter the supposed links to violence by asking Collins if it was not also possible to have “jihad of the heart … jihad with your checkbook, jihad with your pen?”
Sounds like “jihad with your checkbook” was exactly what Jayyousi’s “charity” was all about, though not in the way Swor meant.
“Yes,” he answered.
“In all the years that you knew Kifah Jayyousi, he always emphasized doing things legally, right?” Swor asked.
“Correct,” Collins answered.
Of course, that could also be a perfect cover for Jayyousi’s other activities.
Prosecutors are attempting to show that an organization that included Jayyousi and co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun recruited Padilla as part of a global network to support violent Islamic causes.
After an off day Wednesday, testimony is to resume Thursday with an FBI agent
expected to testify about how Hassoun, Jayyousi and others used code language in telephone
calls to discuss violent Islamic extremism.
For example, “tourism” was code for “fighting jihad” and “getting fresh air”
meant going to an area of conflict.