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On first day of ex-sailor's terror trial, 3 tell of disk

February 26, 2008|From the Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — The trial of a former Navy sailor on terrorism charges opened Monday with British investigators describing how they found details about the vulnerability of the sailor's naval battle group in the London home of an alleged terrorism supporter.

American prosecutors allege that the sailor, Hassan Abujihaad, sent those details to London.

Abujihaad, 32, of Phoenix, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he provided material support to terrorists with intent to kill U.S. citizens and that he disclosed classified information relating to the national defense.

If convicted, he could be sentence to as long as 25 years in prison.

The investigation that resulted in charges against Abujihaad also led to the 2004 arrest of Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist accused of running websites to raise money, appeal for fighters and provide equipment such as gas masks and night vision goggles for terrorists.

Ahmad is awaiting extradition to the United States.

Three British investigators testified Monday that in 2003, agents who searched Ahmad's parents' house, where he had a room, found a computer floppy disk.

Computer expert Samantha Miller testified that the disk contained information on U.S. Navy ships and planned ship movements, as well as statements such as "They have nothing to stop a small craft with RPG [rocket-propelled grenades], etc., except their SEALs' Stinger missiles."

The ship details allegedly included the makeup of the Navy battle group, its planned movements and a drawing of the group's formation when it was to pass through the Straits of Hormuz on April 29, 2001; the number and type of personnel on each ship; each ship's capabilities; and, at the end, instructions to destroy the message.

Abujihaad, an American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall, was a signalman before he received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002.

The trial is expected to last a week or two.

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