3 guilty in anti-U.S. plot

Three Ohio men were convicted Friday of plotting to recruit and train terrorists to kill American soldiers in Iraq, in a case put together with help from a former soldier who posed as a radical bent on violence.

Mohammad Amawi, 28, Marwan El-Hindi, 45, and Wassim Mazloum, 27, face maximum sentences of life in prison. Prosecutors said the men were learning to shoot guns and make explosives while raising money to fund their plans to wage a holy war against U.S. troops.

The federal jury in Toledo returned its verdict after three days of deliberations. U.S. District Judge James Carr did not set a sentencing date, said acting U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards.

“Today's verdicts should send a strong message to individuals who would use this country as a platform to plot attacks against U.S. military personnel in Iraq and elsewhere,” said Patrick Rowan, acting assistant attorney general for national security, in a written statement.

Messages seeking comment from defense attorneys were not immediately returned. At trial they claimed that the three defendants, who all lived in the Toledo area, were manipulated by the government's star witness, Darren Griffin.

The undercover FBI informant and former Army Special Forces soldier recorded the men for about two years beginning in 2004 while they talked about training in explosives, guns and sniper tactics. They met in their homes and at a tiny storefront mosque.

Defense attorneys noted that Griffin was involved in all conversations presented to the jury, and that there was no evidence of phone conversations or e-mails dealing with the alleged plot among only the defendants.

Amawi, El-Hindi and Mazloum were convicted of conspiring to kill or maim people outside the U.S., including military personnel. Amawi and El-Hindi were convicted of distributing information regarding explosives to terrorists.

Amawi and El-Hindi are U.S. citizens, and Mazloum came to the U.S. legally from Lebanon.