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The Collective
Monday, May 14, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the LAT: Padilla case has changed a lot in 5 years

When federal prosecutors begin to present evidence Monday against terrorism suspect Jose Padilla, their case is expected to rest heavily on a single document: his alleged application to become an Islamic warrior.

The federal indictment says Padilla filled out the mujahedin data form on July 24, 2000, “in preparation for violent jihad training in Afghanistan.” The indictment alleges Padilla and two codefendants sought U.S. recruits and funding for foreign holy wars.

Prosecutors plan to call a covert CIA operative to testify in disguise about the document’s provenance and chain of possession, and will go on to introduce more than half of the 200-plus transcripts from wiretapped conversations among the defendants.

Nowhere in the indictment is there mention of the sensational charges leveled against Padilla when he was arrested at O’Hare International Airport in May 2002. Then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft said U.S. agents had thwarted a plot between Padilla, who is a U.S. citizen, and top Al Qaeda figures to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” or blow up apartment buildings in U.S. cities.

In regards to Padilla’s detention:

He had been held at the brig for 3 1/2 years as an “enemy combatant” with status more like the detainees at Guantanamo than a U.S. citizen incarcerated for the charges he would eventually face in federal court. Much of the time he was without human contact, daylight, any timepiece or a mirror. He was subjected to “stress positions” and extremes of heat, noise and light. And interrogations without an attorney present, the government has said, elicited information the Justice Department included in a widely publicized June 2004 report on Padilla’s alleged contacts with Al Qaeda.

Some info on his co-defendants:

Kifah Wael Jayyousi and computer programmer Adham Amin Hassoun.
[…]

The 44-year-old Jayyousi, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Jordanian birth, and 45-year-old Hassoun, a Lebanese-born Palestinian, had been under surveillance since the mid-1990s, the indictment says. They were arrested around the same time as Padilla.

The indictment alleges all three defendants were followers of Omar Abdel Rahman, an Egyptian Muslim cleric known as “the blind sheikh” who was given a life sentence in 1995 for inciting terrorist acts, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

According to the charge sheet, Jayyousi sought help from North American Muslim groups through his newsletter, the Islam Report, in which he called it “a religious obligation” to aid Muslims under siege in foreign conflicts. The government describes Hassoun as East Coast representative of two humanitarian aid organizations that it alleges are fronts for the support of violent jihad.

BTW, the issue to me is not that there may not be any crimes here, but rather my criticisms are focused on how the case has been pursued to this point and what it suggests about US counter-terrorism policy. Indeed, the entire case (which started as a dirty bomb plot and will end as possibly a case of providing aid to foreign terrorist groups) further denigrates the credibility of the administration in regards to counter-terrorism. This fits again into the post from Arms and Influence that I recommended last night.

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