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Lackawanna Six Plead Innocent to Grand Jury Charges

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Six Lackawanna men pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges of supporting terrorism. They appeared in Federal Court for arraignment.

One by one -- defense attorneys entered "not guilty" pleas on behalf of each client. The indictment charges them with one count of conspiracy and one count of providing material support to a terrorist organization.

The suspects are accused of attending an al Qaida training camp in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001. Mohamed Albanna, vice president of the American Muslim council, reacted to the innocent pleas.

"They are still innocent in the eye of the law and I still think they are innocent in the eye of the community," Albanna said. "All we ask for is to allow for due process."

Both sides will return to court November 27th. Defense attorney Joseph Latona, who represents Faysal Galab, says the government must now decide what documents it will disclose to the defense.

"At trial, they've got to disclose those materials to us," Latona said. "We anticipate that process will begin over the next 30 days. We will report back to the court on the 27th of November."

One question that surfaced outside the court Tuesday is whether or not the six will be tried separately. Yasein Taher's attorney, Rodney Personious, says the "rules favor" a joint trial, but the government could seek separate trials.

"In this case, because a couple of the defendants have made statements, the only way those statements could be used against the others would be if there was a separate trial," Personius said. "So it may be the government, in this case, that would be seeking a separate trial."

Only one defendant was granted bail -- but remains in custody. Sahim Alwan's attorney, James Harrington, says they're still trying to secure a number of properties to raise $600,000 in bail.

"For each one, you need all these documents and must, through a process, satisfy the government. They need to know ownership, value, if the taxes are paid, and how much equity there is in the home," Harrington said. "Because there is more than one, it is taking much longer then we had hoped."

Harrington says Alwan could be released by next week.

Attorneys for the five others submitted an application to appeal the judge's no bail decision. An additional filing will be made by Thursday.