Padilla guilty of aid­ing ter­ror­ists; Amer­i­can faces life sen­tence

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Curt An­der­son

MI­AMI — Jose Padilla, a U.S. cit­i­zen held for 3 1/2 years as an en­emy com­bat­ant, was con­victed Aug. 16 of help­ing Is­lamic ex­trem­ists and plot­ting over­seas at­tacks.

Padilla, wear­ing a dark suit and wire-rimmed glasses, showed no emo­tion and stared straight ahead as he heard the ver­dict that could bring him a life sen­tence in prison.

When Padilla was ar­rested in the months af­ter the 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, au­thor­i­ties said he was an al Qaeda ter­ror­ist who planned to det­o­nate a ra­dioac­tive “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city. That ac­cu­sa­tion never made it to court.

In­stead, af­ter a three-month trial and only a day and a half of de­lib­er­a­tions, the 36-year-old Padilla and his for­eign-born co-de­fen­dants were con­victed of con­spir­acy to mur­der, kid­nap and maim peo­ple over­seas and two counts of pro­vid­ing ma­te­rial sup­port to ter­ror­ists.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Mar­cia Cooke set a Dec. 5 sen­tenc­ing date.

The three were ac­cused of be­ing part of a North Amer­i­can sup­port cell that pro­vided sup­plies, money and re­cruits to groups of Is­lamic ex­trem­ists. The de­fense con­tended they were try­ing to help per­se­cuted Mus­lims in war zones with re­lief and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

The White House thanked the jury for a “just” ver­dict.

“Wec­om­mendthe­jury­foritswork in this trial and thank it for up­hold­ing a core Amer­i­can prin­ci­ple of im­par­tial jus­tice for all,” said Gor­don John­droe, a spokesman for the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil at the White House.

Estela Lebron, Padilla’s mother, said out­side the court­house, “The win­ner is Ge­orge Bush.” Ear­lier in the court­room, she said she felt “a lit­tle bit sad” at the ver­dict but ex­pected her son’s lawyers would ap­peal.

“I don’t know how they found Jose guilty. There was no ev­i­dence he was speak­ing in code,” she said, re­fer­ring to FBI wire­tap in­ter­cepts in which Padilla was over­heard talk­ing to co-de­fen­dant Adham Amin Has­soun.

At­tor­neys for Has­soun and the third de­fen­dant, Ki­fah Wael Jayy­ousi, both said they in­tended to ap­peal. There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Padilla’s lawyers.

Mem­bers of the jury de­clined in­ter­view re­quests from the press and were es­corted out of the court­house through a side exit by U.S. mar­shals.

The charges brought in civil­ian court in Mi­ami were a shadow of those ini­tial dirty bomb claims in part be­cause Padilla was in­ter­ro­gated in a mil­i­tary brig and was not read his Mi­randa rights.

Padilla’s at­tor­neys fought for years to get his case into fed­eral court, and he fi­nally was added to the Mi­ami ter­ror­ism sup­port in­dict­ment in late 2005 just as the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to con­sider Pres­i­dent Bush’s author­ity to con­tinue de­tain­ing him.

Padilla, a Mus­lim con­vert from Chicago, had lived in South Florida in the 1990s and sup­pos­edly was re­cruited by Has­soun at a mosque to be­come a mu­ja­hedeen fighter.

The key piece of phys­i­cal ev­i­dence was a five-page form Padilla sup­pos­edly filled out in July 2000 to at­tend an al Qaeda train­ing camp in Afghanistan, which would link the other two de­fen­dants as well to Osama bin Laden’s ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The form, re­cov­ered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan, con­tained seven of Padilla’s fin­ger­prints and sev­eral other per­sonal iden­ti­fiers, such as his birth date and his abil­ity to speak Span­ish, English and Ara­bic.

“He pro­vided him­self to al Qaeda for train­ing to learn to mur­der, kid­nap and maim,” As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Brian Fra­zier said in clos­ing ar­gu­ments.

As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers Sarah Larimer in Mi­ami and Deb Re­ich­mann in Craw­ford, Texas, con­trib­uted to this re­port.

As­so­ci­ated Press

This court­room draw­ing shows Jose Padilla, right, and As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Brian Fra­zier, left, as the ver­dict is read in Padilla’s ter­ror­ism trial in Mi­ami on Aug. 16.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.