The latest in ‘homegrown’ jihadists has been convicted of terrorism in Federal Court:
MIAMI — Jose Padilla was convicted of federal terrorism support charges Thursday after being held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant in a case that came to symbolize the Bush administration’s campaign to stop homegrown terror. He was once accused of being part of an al Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb in the U.S., but those allegations were not part of his trial. Padilla and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face life in prison because they were convicted of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. All three were also convicted of two terrorism material support counts that carry potential 15-year sentences each.
Estela Lebron, Padilla’s mother, 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 Hassoun.
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.
Padilla was first detained in 2002 because of much more sensational accusations. The Bush administration portrayed Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert, as a committed terrorist who was part of an Al Qaeda plot to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the U.S. The administration called his detention an important victory in the war against terrorism, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The charges brought in civilian court in Miami, however, were a pale shadow of those initial claims in part because Padilla, 36, was interrogated about the plot when he was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years in military custody with no lawyer present and was not read his Miranda rights.
Padilla’s attorneys fought for years to get his case into federal court, and he was finally added to the Miami terrorism support indictment in late 2005 just as the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to consider President George W. Bush’s authority to continue detaining him. Padilla had lived in South Florida in the 1990s and was supposedly 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 Usama bin Laden’s terrorist organization.
The form, recovered by the CIA in 2001 in Afghanistan, contains seven of Padilla’s fingerprints and several other personal identifiers, such as his birthdate and his ability to speak Spanish, English and Arabic.
Padilla’s lawyers insisted the form was far from conclusive and denied that he was a “star recruit,” as prosecutors claimed, of the North American support cell intending to become a terrorist. Padilla’s attorneys said he traveled to Egypt in September 1998 to learn Islam more deeply and become fluent in Arabic.
“His intent was to study, not to murder,” said Padilla attorney Michael Caruso.
Hassoun is a computer programmer of Palestinian descent who was born in Lebanon. Jayyousi is a civil engineer and public schools administrator who is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Jordan. Jayyousi also ran an organization called American Worldwide Relief and published a newsletter called the Islam Report that provided details of battles and political issues in the Muslim world.
“It wasn’t a terrorist operation. It was a relief operation,” said Jayyousi attorney William Swor.
Gotta love Mom’s reaction and the half-assed explaination by his lawyers. Traveling to Egypt to “study” Arabic? Why did he then apply for a slot at an Al Qaeda training camp? For an advanced course in the ‘peaceful religion of Islam’?
The so-called “relief operation” bears an uncanny resemblance to CAIR’s Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, both Hamas front organizations.
I have absolutely no heartburn over yanking his ass into indefinite detention without Miranda Rights. Anyone who plots death and destruction in the United States, especially under the auspices of a sworn enemy, forfeits any expectation of rights. If you join forces against this country, you are a traitor and you’ve definitively renounced your citizenship.
Come to think of it, that qualifies 99.9% of the Democratic Party.
Here’s more on the evidence gathered by the FBI:
Wrapping up the case against Padilla:
By Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writer
July 13, 2007
MIAMI — Government attorneys prosecuting Jose Padilla are expected to rest their case today after nine weeks of testimony on items including his 1996 passport application and the notes and photos found in his wallet when he was arrested six years later.
The evidence presented against 36-year-old Padilla and two codefendants traced a paper trail of bank transfers and cashed checks among the defendants alleged to belong to a North American terrorism support cell. It portrayed them as evasive under questioning by law enforcement and cryptic when conversing by phone.
Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi are charged with conspiracy to kill, maim or kidnap people abroad and with providing material support to terrorist groups.
In more than 100 wiretapped phone calls played for the jury, the three men expressed concern for Muslim victims of ethnic strife overseas and talked about wanting to help them. But what the government attempted to impart to the jury was that the three men were ideologically aligned with Al Qaeda and the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
Padilla, arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 2002, was initially accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city. He spent 3 1/2 years in solitary confinement at a U.S. Navy brig in South Carolina after President Bush branded the U.S. citizen an “enemy combatant.”
As the prosecution neared the end of its presentation Thursday, Assistant U.S. Atty. John C. Shipley brought before the jurors one more time probably the most important piece of evidence against Padilla: a five-page form said to be his application for Al Qaeda terrorist training.
The form was reviewed multiple times — including by a covert CIA agent explaining how he obtained it in Afghanistan; by an FBI fingerprint expert who matched seven prints to Padilla; by a convicted member of the “Lackawanna Six” terrorism support group who had filled out a similar application; and Thursday by U.S. Secret Service Agent Gerald Laporte, who attested to the possibility that the ink on the paper was put there on the July 24, 2000, date noted on the paper. The application is the only physical evidence placing Padilla in Afghanistan.
He and his two cohorts are due to be sentenced 5 December. Too bad we no longer execute for treason.