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Graduate student on charges of supporting terrorism.

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posted on Apr, 14 2004 @ 11:29 PM
"April 13, 2004

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- A University of Idaho graduate student went on trial Tuesday on charges he supported terrorism by running Web sites that recruited militants and raised money for groups promoting violence against the United States.

Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a Saudi national working on his computer science doctoral degree, is charged with three counts of aiding terrorism and additional counts of visa fraud and making false statements.

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge began questioning potential jurors Tuesday, and expected to have a panel seated by the end of the day.

Al-Hussayen is accused of helping to run Web sites that supported the militant Palestinian organization Hamas and other groups allegedly promoting terrorism.

Federal prosecutors say he provided "material support" to terrorists, a crime that was expanded under the Patroit Act -- the federal terrorism law passed after September 11 -- to include "expert advice or assistance."

Al-Hussayen, 34, was arrested at his home on February 26, 2003, and has gotten strong support from students and faculty on the Moscow campus, where he had a reputation as a positive leader of the small Islamic community.

After the September 11 attacks, he marched in a peace rally, donated blood and worked to educate local residents about Islam.

Al-Hussayen's lawyer has said that while his client set up the Web sites, any statements made on those sites supporting terrorism were not his, and he has been unfairly blamed for the words of others."

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