Two U.S. citizens accused of plotting to attack civilian and government targets shot "casing videos" of Washington landmarks that were found on a terrorism suspect's computer in Britain and met with suspects in a Canadian terrorism case, an FBI agent testified Monday.
Agent Mark Richards testified that the videos of the U.S. Capitol and other Washington landmarks taken by Syed Ahmed and Ehsanul Sadequee were found on a computer belonging to Younis Tsouli, a Moroccan-born man who pleaded guilty in Britain in July to inciting others to commit acts of terrorism.
Richards also said Ahmed and Sadequee, during a trip to Toronto in March 2005, met with several of the 17 people charged in a June 2006 Canadian terrorism sweep. Charges against the suspects in the Canadian case include participating in a terrorist group, importing weapons and planning a bombing.
Ahmed and Sadequee wanted to plan attacks for "defense of Muslims or retaliation for acts committed against Muslims," authorities have said. They have pleaded not guilty to a July 19, 2006, indictment charging them with providing material support to terrorists and related conspiracy counts. No trial date has been set.
Defense motion to throw out interviews
At a hearing Monday that was expected to last three days, Jack Martin, an attorney for Ahmed, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill to throw out tapes of interviews Ahmed gave investigators or abide by a purported agreement not to prosecute him.
Martin argued that FBI agents who questioned Ahmed over five days in March 2006 promised him immunity if he cooperated. Martin suggested the statements should be considered involuntary because Ahmed was later charged.
But Richards testified that agents neither promised Ahmed anything nor threatened him. He said that the interviews were conducted at Ahmed's home, a hotel and an FBI office, and that Ahmed was never in custody. He testified that Ahmed was not truthful during some interviews.
It wasn't immediately clear when Brill would rule on Ahmed's suppression motion.
Transcripts of the 10 to 12 hours of interviews with Ahmed were released Monday. Copies of the recordings played in court were withheld, pending a ruling by Brill.
According to the transcripts, Ahmed said he traveled to Pakistan in 2005 wanting to join a Kashmir militant group, Lashkar-e-Tayyba. Ahmed also told FBI agents that he had hoped to be recruited into a holy war training camp where he could learn to fight against "Muslim oppressors everywhere."
During an interview, an agent tells Ahmed that he's "getting credit for" being honest.
"You are doing the right thing by letting us know the details," the agent said, according to the transcript.
Oil refineries cited
Ahmed also told agents that during his trip to Canada he and others discussed targeting U.S. oil refineries for an attack, according to the transcript.
"And the reason for that was?" one agent asked him.
"I thought that all the oil in the Middle East, and, like, it is Muslim property and it's being stolen," Ahmed responded. "That's what we think."
Ahmed, 23, and Sadequee, 21, are accused of undergoing training to carry out a "violent jihad," or holy war, against civilian and government targets, including an air base in suburban Atlanta, according to the indictment.
Ahmed, born in Pakistan, was a Georgia Tech student at the time of his arrest. Sadequee, born in Virginia and of Bangladeshi descent, has relatives in the Atlanta area.