DENVER – U.S. prosecutors told a jury Thursday that a Philadelphia man frustrated by the mistreatment of Muslims used codes and other trickery to hide, a $300 payment in support of a terrorist group, but the defense lawyers, said the native of Uzbekistan was only repaying a debt to a friend.
Opening statements marked the beginning of a Denver process that is expected to testimony of international witnesses with aliases and disguises, transcripts of phone and e-mail conversations in at least three languages and a team of translators dedicated to helping the accused understand the proceedings.
The federal authorities arrested Bakhtiyor Jumaev more than six years ago, in his apartment in Philadelphia. The case is to be tried in Colorado, because the man who received the money lived in a suburb of Denver at the time.
Jumaev is charged with a conspiracy to commit material support to a terrorist organization, and the provision of or the granting of material support.
The prosecutors said Jumaev was a close with another Uzbek native, co-defendant Jamshid Muhtorov, when they briefly shared an apartment. The men talked about a group called the Islamic Jihad Union in phone calls and e-mails, the use of code-words such as “wedding” to refer to the jihad or to fight, prosecutor Gregory Holloway said in his opening remarks.
After his arrest, Jumaev acquaintances know that it was a crime to send money to terrorist groups and the use of code-words, Holloway added.
“They decided to finally act on their resentment and anger,” Holloway said. “And you will see from the evidence, they took steps to get money to this terrorist group.”
Jumaev’s lawyer, David Barry savitz, told jurors that his client is an immigrant who left his wife and three sons in 2000 in Uzbekistan, and bang for the mistreatment of Muslims under an authoritarian leader. He said Jumaev worked a variety of jobs, sending most of his salary back to the family.
But after Jumaev was arrested by the immigration authorities in 2010, he was in a financial hole and needed help to grant bond, ” he said.
Muhtorov, the roommate, chipped in $500, and Jumaev was determined to pay him back, the lawyer said. Authorities had been investigating Muhtorov months misunderstood a recorded phone conversation referring to the payment of the debt as a “wedding gift,” savitz said.
Defense attorneys argued that Jumaev, the confession was forced to say that he was arrested after an overnight shift cleaning of supermarkets and questioned for several hours until he felt “like a broken man.”
“He considered himself trapped,” savitz said. “He was afraid. He was exhausted.”
Muhtorov, who is being tried separately, was arrested in January 2012 at a Chicago airport. Prosecutors said he was preparing to board a flight abroad, with $2,800 in cash.
The authorities have said that they also found propaganda videos of terrorist groups on his phone. Muhtorov’s lawyers have said he denies the allegations.