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‘Enemy Combatant’ Padilla Convicted of Supporting Terrorists

A federal jury in Miami convicted Jose Padilla on all three counts of supporting overseas Islamic terrorist groups, including al-Qaida. A reporter who covered the trial provides an update.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    That terror conviction of Jose Padilla, Curt Anderson of the Associated Press covered the three-month-long trial, and he joins us now from Miami.

    Curt Anderson, welcome.

  • CURT ANDERSON, The Associated Press:

    Thanks, Jim, good to be here.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    What exactly was it that Jose Padilla was convicted of doing today?

  • CURT ANDERSON:

    He was essentially convicted of presenting himself, volunteering to become an al-Qaida trainee at a camp in Afghanistan. The main piece of evidence against him was a form that he filled out back in 2000 to join the al-Farouq camp, which was one of the biggest and supposedly best in Afghanistan.

    Beyond that, there was very little other evidence against him. Most of it was the form which had his fingerprints on it, and that seemed to be enough to convince the jury that he had provided himself as material support to the al-Qaida terrorist group.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Was there any evidence that he actually went to the camp and trained and got ready to be a "terrorist," end quote?

  • CURT ANDERSON:

    They stopped short of presenting that evidence directly regarding Padilla himself, but prosecutors brought other people — notably a number of the Lackawanna Six group up in upstate New York — to testify that he had gone to that same camp at a different time and had learned to use explosives and AK-47 and trained in a various ways like that. He was seen as a stand-in for Padilla, since they did not want to — the prosecutors did not want to go that far in this case regarding Padilla himself.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And the reason they didn't want to — why would they not want to go any further? Was there a legal reason or what?

  • CURT ANDERSON:

    Yes. They were barred, primarily because Padilla, as many people know, was held as an enemy combatant for three-and-a-half years. He was interrogated extensively during all that time. And supposedly, if you believe the government, admitted to most of this information, the things he did and plots that he supposedly took part in.

    None of that can be used in federal court because he was never read his rights, he never had a lawyer present to advise him, as we normally would have in our system, in federal civilian courts, so the case stopped short of actually his attendance at the camp.

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