Sunday, May 16, 2010


*** The first casualty of war is not the truth, it is humanity itself. MS ***


The prosecution concluded its case Saturday against five Americans on trial in a Pakistani court facing life sentences after being charged with planning terrorist attacks in the South Asian country.

The men _ all Muslims in their late teens or early 20s from the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia _ have pleaded not guilty to five charges.

The accused were given a last chance to respond to the prosecution before the defense presents its side on June 9, prosecutor Nadeem Akram said.

In a written statement, the men said the charges against them were trumped up and police planted discriminating evidence. "We just wanted to go to Afghanistan to help our Muslim brother on humanitarian grounds," they said.

The prosecution presented 19 witnesses and evidence including e-mail contacts allegedly with the Pakistani Taliban, and receipts of money they allegedly donated to banned militant groups in Pakistan, Akram said. There was a "strong case" for conviction in the trial being heard by one judge, he said.

The case is among several of foreigners allegedly signing up to join insurgents.

U.S. and Pakistan are continuing to investigate the Pakistani-American suspect in the botched Times Square bombing on May 1. Family members have said Faisal Shahzad never exhibited signs of extremism, raising questions as to why men who spent much of their lives in the West would seemingly be drawn to militant Islam.

The five men were arrested in Pakistan in December after being reported missing by their families. One had left behind a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.

Pakistani police have publicly made several accusations against the young men, claiming the suspects contacted Pakistani-based jihadi groups. They accused the five of using the social networking site Facebook and video-sharing site YouTube while they were in the U.S. to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan.

Their lawyer has said they were heading to Afghanistan and had no plans to stage attacks inside Pakistan.

The trial is taking place inside a high-security prison in the eastern city of Sargodha and media have not been allowed to cover the proceedings.

The men have been identified as Ramy Zamzam of Egyptian descent, Waqar Khan and Umar Farooq of Pakistani descent, and Aman Hassan Yemer and Ahmed Minni of Ethiopian descent.