‘Dirty Bomb’ Suspect Charged With Conspiracy

A federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 17 returned the 11-count indictment, which included four other suspects. While the charges allege Padilla was part of a U.S.-based terrorism conspiracy, they did not include the government’s earlier allegations that he intended to carry out attacks in America, reported the Associated Press.

“The indictment alleges that Padilla traveled overseas to train as a terrorist with the intention of fighting a violent jihad,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told a news conference in Washington. He declined to comment on why the indictment did not include alleged attacks on America.

Gonzales said Padilla could face life in prison if convicted of the charges of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people in a foreign country; conspiracy to provide material support for terrorists; and providing material support for terrorists.

Also indicted were Adham Amin Hassoun, Mohammed Hesham Youssef, Kifah Wael Jayyousi and Kassem Daher.

The indictment said the suspects, working in Broward County, Florida, and elsewhere from October 1993, “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with others, known and unknown to the grand jury, to commit at any place outside the United States, acts that would constitute murder … and did commit one or more acts within the jurisdiction of the United States, to effect the purpose and object of the conspiracy.”

Padilla’s lawyers said in their earlier appeal that the government’s evidence includes double and triple hearsay from secret witnesses, “along with information allegedly obtained from Padilla himself during his two years of incommunicado interrogation.”

The Bush administration have said Padilla, a former Chicago gang member and convert to Islam, sought to blow up hotels and apartment buildings in the United States and plotted an attack with a “dirty bomb” radiological device, according to the AP.

Padilla was arrested May 8, 2002, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after returning from Pakistan. President Bush declared him an enemy combatant, and Padilla was placed in solitary confinement at a Navy prison in South Carolina, where he had remained without charges.

As part of the proceeding, President Bush on Sunday authorized Padilla to be transferred from the military to Justice Department control, Reuters reported.

His trial is expected to begin in September 2006.