Jurors have found Jose Padilla guilty of supporting al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups. He potentially faces life in prison.
The jury read the verdict to U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami’s downtown federal courthouse after a day and a half of deliberation following a three-month trial.
The Bush administration arrested Padilla, 36, in 2002 and accused him of being an important al-Qaeda terrorist who intended to set off a radioactive “dirty bomb” on U.S. soil. His detainment as an enemy combatant was at first hailed by the government as a major victory in the effort to combat terrorism, but it eventually became a lightning rod for criticism that the Bush administration was using its executive powers to abuse civil liberties. Padilla, a U.S. citizen, fought to have his case heard in open federal court, and in 2005 charges were brought against him in Miami. Those charges were significantly less serious than the original allegations made against him. Some of the evidence gained from the military interrogations of Padilla was disallowed in the civilian trial.
Padilla and two other alleged radicals were accused of providing supplies, money and recruits to other terrorist cells. The attorneys for the three men claimed the supplies were humanitarian aid to what the men to be considered persecuted Muslims.