MIAMI, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A federal jury in Miami found former “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla guilty Thursday in a major terror trial after a day and a half of deliberations.
Padilla and two co-defendants, convicted on all counts, could face up to life in prison.
"The conviction of Jose Padilla -- an American who provided material support to terrorists and trained for violent jihad -- is a significant victory in our efforts to fight the threat posed by terrorists and their supporters,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement. “... As this trial demonstrated, we will use our authority as prosecutors to dismantle terrorist networks and those who support them in the United States and abroad.”
Padilla was arrested by the FBI at a Chicago airport in May 2002. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft said U.S. intelligence had discovered he was returning from meeting with al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan, and that he was scouting sites in the United States as targets for a “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive device wrapped in radioactive material.
For years, he was a principal challenger of the Bush administration’s use of “enemy combatant” status -- keeping detainees in military custody indefinitely without trial in civilian courts.
However, the Miami trial in a civilian federal court dealt with none of those issues. Instead, the Justice Department tried to prove that Padilla and two other defendants, Adham Hassoun and Kifah Jayyousi, conspired to provide material support to terrorists overseas.
The government’s case against Padilla rested largely on an al-Qaida “application form” for training in a terror camp prosecutors said was filled out by the defendant. The form was found by the CIA in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, and prosecutors said Padilla left seven fingerprints on it.
A U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, Padilla maintained he had been living in Egypt while studying to be an imam.