Dirty bomb suspect indicted
November 22, 2005
WASHINGTON - Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen held without charges for more than three years on suspicion of plotting a "dirty bomb" attack in this country, has been indicted on three counts alleging he conspired to "murder, maim and kidnap" people overseas.
The indictment naming Padilla and four others was unsealed Tuesday after being returned last week by a federal grand jury in Miami. While the charges allege Padilla was part of a U.S.-based terrorism conspiracy, they do not include the government's earlier allegations that he planned to carry out attacks in America.
alleges that Padilla traveled overseas to train as a terrorist with the
intention of fighting a violent jihad," Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales said at a news conference. Gonzales declined to comment on why
none of the allegations involving attacks in America were included in
Padilla, a Brooklyn-born Muslim convert, had been held as an "enemy combatant" in Defense Department custody. The Bush administration had resisted calls to charge and try him in civilian courts.
With the indictment, Padilla will be transferred from military custody to the Justice Department. Gonzales said the case would go to trial in September of 2006. Padilla faces life in prison if convicted on the three charges — one count each of conspiracy to murder, maim and kidnap people overseas, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy.
"The 'evidence' the government has offered against Padilla over the past three years consists of double and triple hearsay from secret witnesses, along with information allegedly obtained from Padilla himself during his two years of incommunicado interrogation," his lawyers said in their earlier appeal.
The Bush administration earlier said Padilla, a former Chicago gang member, sought to blow up hotels and apartment buildings in the United States and planned an attack with a "dirty bomb" radiological device.
Gonzales sidestepped the question of why those allegations were not included in the indictment, saying he would only talk about the specific charges.
Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. The federal government has said he was trained in weapons and explosives by members of al-Qaida.
According to the indictment, Padilla traveled overseas to receive violent jihad training and to fight violent jihad from October 1993 to November 2001. On July 24, 2000, Padilla allegedly filled out a "Mujahideen Data Form" in preparation for violent jihad training in Afghanistan and reportedly was seen in that country in October 2000.
The charges against him and four others allege they were part of a North American support cell that sent money, assets and recruits overseas "for the purpose of fighting violent jihad." The indictment mentions Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt and Bosnia, but makes no allegations of specific attacks anywhere.
The others indicted are: Adham Amin Hassoun a Lebanese-born Palestinian who lived in Broward County, Fla.;, Mohammed Hesham Youssef, an Egyptian who lived in Broward County; Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a Jordanian national and U.S. citizen who lived in San Diego; and Kassem Daher, a Lebanese citizen with Canadian residency status.
Hassoun also was indicted on eight additional charges, including perjury, obstruction of justice and illegal firearm possession.
Hassoun, a Palestinian computer programmer who moved to Florida in 1989, was arrested in June 2002 for allegedly overstaying his student visa. Prosecutors previously described him as a former associate of Padilla.
Hassoun and Jayyousi are in federal custody in Miami, while Youssef is serving a prison sentence in Egypt, Justice Department officials said. Daher is believed to be in Lebanon, but officials said they are uncertain whether he is in custody.
Padilla has been
held at a Navy brig in South Carolina. Following the indictment, which
was handed up last Thursday, President Bush sent a memo to Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld ordering Padilla transferred to the federal detention
facility in Miami.