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A federal grand jury in Miami on Thursday indicted computer programmer Adham Amin Hassoun on charges that he lied and obstructed justice to hide his work raising funds and recruiting fighters in support of a “global jihad.” The 14-page superseding indictment charges Hassoun, a Palestinian, with seven counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice. It is the first major terrorism-related indictment in South Florida publicly alleging an international connection. Hassoun originally was indicted in January, on a single count of illegally possessing a firearm — a 9mm Smith & Wesson pistol that agents recovered while searching his home following his detention on an immigration charge in June 2002. Federal law forbids nonimmigrant aliens from possessing a handgun. “The government’s efforts to protect national security, through immigration proceedings and investigations of possible terrorist activity, rely heavily on securing truthful, reliable information,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a news release announcing the indictment. “Those who lie under oath or seek to obstruct these important proceedings, as Mr. Hassoun allegedly did, impair our ability to protect the nation and win the war on terror, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Hassoun, who the government alleges was also known by the name “Abu Sayyaf,” is to be arraigned on the new charges before a magistrate in West Palm Beach, but no date was set. He is represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney Fred Haddad. Hassoun, who lives in Sunrise, Fla., has denied any wrongdoing. The new indictment was no surprise. Two weeks ago, at a hearing on the firearms charge before U.S. Magistrate James M. Hopkins in West Palm Beach, Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Killinger announced “serious” new charges were imminent. Hassoun, who once worshipped at a Fort Lauderdale mosque with accused “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, was born in a Lebanese refugee camp in 1963. Agents of South Florida’s Joint Terrorism Task Force detained him in June 2002 for allegedly violating the conditions of the visa he used to enter the country legally in 1989. In secret deportation proceedings last year in Miami, federal immigration authorities labeled Hassoun a terrorist and said he had contacts as high as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. He was also linked to a Chicago-based charity whose leader later pleaded guilty to funneling funds to Muslim fighters in Chechnya and Bosnia. Hassoun has been declared deportable, but is appealing that decision at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. A government news release describing the indictment said Hassoun lied to Department of Homeland Security agents, FBI agents and a U.S. immigration judge when questioned about his activities “in recruiting and funding for jihad activities.” According to the release, Hassoun perjured himself “when asked if he spoke in coded language while discussing jihad activities. The indictment further alleges that the defendant falsely testified that he did not participate in conversations about killing a woman in Lebanon.” Prosecuting the case with Killinger are Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian K. Frazier and Stephanie K. Pell of the Justice Department’s counterterrorism section. In the release, U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez in Miami said, “the fight against terrorism is the foremost priority of the Department of Justice, and my office is committed to ensuring the integrity of our investigations as we carry out that directive. In order to protect the public, we need the truthful cooperation of individuals questioned by law enforcement. We will pursue any interference with the truth-finding process.”

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