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Shocker: Jose Padilla Sentenced To 17 Yrs

From an outraged Associated Press:

Jose Padilla is sentenced to 17 years

By CURT ANDERSON, AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI – Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive “dirty bomb,” was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on terrorism conspiracy charges that don’t mention those initial allegations.

The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke marks another step in the extraordinary personal and legal odyssey for the 37-year-old Muslim convert, a U.S. citizen who was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the “dirty bomb” allegations. He had faced up to life in prison.

Cooke also imposed prison terms on two other men of Middle Eastern origin who were convicted of conspiracy and material support charges along with Padilla in August. The three were part of a North American support cell for al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists around the world, prosecutors said

Cooke sentenced Padilla’s recruiter, 45-year-old Adham Amin Hassoun, to 15 years and eight months in prison and the third defendant, 46-year-old Kifah Wael Jayyousi, to 12 years and eight months…

The men were convicted after a three-month trial based on tens of thousands of FBI telephone intercepts collected over an eight-year investigation and a form Padilla filled out in 2000 to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. Padilla, a former Chicago gang member with a long criminal record, converted to Islam in prison and was recruited by Hassoun while attending a mosque in suburban Sunrise.

Padilla sought a sentence of no more than 10 years. Hassoun asked for 15 years or less and Jayyousi for no more than five years.

Padilla’s arrest was initially portrayed by the Bush administration as an important victory in the months immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and later was seen as a symbol of the administration’s zeal to prevent homegrown terrorism. Prosecutors repeatedly invoked al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden in the criminal case.

Civil liberties groups and Padilla’s lawyers called his detention unconstitutional for someone born in this country and contended that he was only charged criminally because the Supreme Court appeared poised to order him either charged or released.

Jurors in the criminal case never heard Padilla’s full history, which according to U.S. officials included a graduation from the al-Qaida terror camp, a plot to detonate the “dirty bomb” and a plot to fill apartments with natural gas and blow them up. Much of what Padilla supposedly told interrogators during his long detention as an enemy combatant could not be used in court because he had no access to a lawyer and was not read his constitutional rights.

Padilla’s lawyers argued for a lenient sentence, in part because of his minor role in the conspiracy that was the subject of last year’s trial and because of claims that he was mistreated and tortured while he was held at a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. U.S. officials denied those claims repeatedly.

Attorneys for Hassoun and Jayyousi argued that any assistance they provided overseas was for peaceful purposes and to help persecuted Muslims in violent countries. But FBI agents testified that their charitable work was a cover for violent jihad, which they frequently discussed in code using words such as “tourism” and “football.”

I’m not sure why the Associated Press is trying to be so subtle. Their headline should have just been: “Free Padilla!”

Apparently, at least according to them, he is as innocent as an Eid festival lamb.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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