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A former graduate student testified he used a fake Social Security number to obtain credit cards but denied accusations that he tried to help terrorists.
A naturalized US citizen born in the West Bank, Arwah Jaber said he was "trying to survive" and did not believe at the time that it was against the law to provide false information on credit card applications.
Jaber, 34, who received a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Arkansas, was arrested June 16, 2005, as he waited to board a flight at an Arkansas airport.
During the trial that began Monday, federal prosecutors said Jaber tried to help the Islamic Jihad, which the US government has labeled a terrorist organization.
The prosecution presented testimony that Jaber told several people he was going to join the Palestinian resistance movement, that his personality changed from a smiling, happy student to an intense person interested in fighting Israel, that Jaber consulted a spiritual adviser in the Palestinian territories by phone just days before his arrest, and that he planned to return to the Palestinian territories and fight.
Defense attorneys called several federal experts who testified they did not think Jaber was a terrorist.
"A real terrorist wouldn't announce his intentions to the world by sending an e-mail or telling people," said former CIA officer Frank Anderson, who testified as an expert on Middle Eastern terror groups.
Patricia Koski, associate dean of the university's graduate school, said Jaber's e-mail to a professor threatening to join the Islamic Jihad struck her as another grad student being dramatic.
"I think if he had made a direct threat against someone I would have been concerned," she testified.
The jury will begin deliberations in the case on Monday.