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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Jose Padilla charged with attempting to "murder, kidnap, and maim" dirty bomb plotter aimed to blow up high rise apartments in Florida

Jose Padilla charged with attempting to "murder, kidnap, and maim" dirty bomb plotter aimed to blow up high rise apartments in Florida

Al Qaeda terrorists now jailed can be traced to group behind Rabbi Meir Kahane's murder and 1993 WTC bombings
November 22, 2005

Dirty bomb plot suspect faces trial in US
By Simon Freeman and agencies

A suspect who has spent three years in US custody on suspicion of trying to detonate a dirty bomb was finally charged today with a range of terror offences.

Jose Padilla, 35, a former Chicago mobster who converted to Islam, is said to have been part of conspiracy to blow up hotels and apartment buildings overseas.

A federal grand jury in Miami returned an indictment against Padilla and four others, accusing them of attempting to "murder, kidnap and maim".

"The defendants, along with other individuals, operated and participated in a North American support cell that sent money, physical assets and mujahideen recruits to overseas conflicts for the purposes of fighting a violent jihad," the indictment said.

"Padilla was recruited by the North American support cell to participate in violent jihad and travelled overseas for that purpose," it stated.

The papers, however, made no mention of the central charge on which Padilla was detained in May 2002: he was originally accused of being part of a plot to detonate a radioactive 'dirty bomb' on American soil.

At a news conference in Washington Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General, did not specify where overseas the attacks were to have occurred.

The indictment was issued less than a week before a deadline that would have led to a hearing in the Supreme Court over his continued detention without charge. Padilla's lawyers asked justices to review his case last month, and the White House had until Monday to file its legal arguments.

"They're avoiding what the Supreme Court would say about American citizens. That's an issue the administration did not want to face," said Scott Silliman, a law professor at Duke University. "There's no way that the Supreme Court would have ducked this issue."

A lawyer representing Padilla told the AP news agency: "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."

Born in Brooklyn, Padilla grew up on the streets of Chicago where he was a known member of one of the powerful criminal gangs.

He converted to Islam, adopting the name Abdullah al-Mujahir, and left the United States for Egypt in 1998. He is said to have travelled to several other countries in the Middle East over the next two years.

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 2002 after returning from Pakistan. He had been followed on his return flight - which went via Zurich, Cairo and Zurich again - by FBI agents and was detained after disembarking with more than $10,000 in cash.

The federal government has said he was trained in weapons and explosives by members of al-Qaeda and described him as a "highly trained Al-Qaeda soldier who had accepted an assignment to kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children".

The indictment said Padilla and Canadian national Kassem Daher had conspired with previously charged defendants Adham Hassoun, Mohomed Youssef, and Kifah Jayyousi to help terrorist groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

With the indictment, Padilla will be transferred from to the Justice Department for civilian proceedings. Mr Gonzales said the case would go to trial in September 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.


Dirty bomb suspect indicted

By Sean Gardiner
Staff Writer

November 23, 2005


After holding him as an "enemy combatant" for 3 ˝ years without charges, the federal government indicted Jose Padilla and four others as part of what it says was a South Florida-based terrorist support cell that funded and helped recruit for a holy war.

But lawyers for Padilla, whose family lives in Plantation, were quick to point out that the 31-page, 11-count indictment unsealed Tuesday contained none of the most damning allegations government officials initially leveled at Padilla, including any mention of a dirty bomb plot or planned attack on U.S. soil.

The lawyers suggested that charging Padilla in the superceding indictment is politically motivated. The case's move to Miami's federal court possibly scuttles a Supreme Court review of the policy on enemy combatants, who are allowed to be held by the government without being charged or having a hearing.

Padilla's attorneys are fighting that ruling and the government's opposition brief was due Monday outlining why the U.S. Supreme Court should not address the issue.

"I think this tells us two things," said Jonathan Freidman, Padilla's lead lawyer. "They're trying to duck the issue in the Supreme Court. And when a government gets to hold people without having to prove their case, they'll allege a whole bunch of things. But when they have to prove a case in a court of law, it has to be a lot more responsible."

Freidman is hopeful the Supreme Court will take up the case anyway.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said one federal court already had deemed the enemy combatant clause constitutional and they were confident the latest attempt to overturn it would also be turned back. She also said Padilla's attorneys "have been asking for him to be put in a criminal justice system, and now he'll be in the criminal justice system with a very strong case against him."

The indictment transfers Padilla's case to Miami's federal court. His transfer from a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., where he has been held since June 2004, to the Federal Detention Center in Miami is pending paperwork releasing him from Department of Defense custody.

Padilla and four others, including two men with local ties, stand accused of being a part of a "North American support cell" designed to send "money, physical assets and mujahideen [or warriors] recruits to overseas conflicts for the purpose of fighting violent jihad [holy war]," according to the indictment.

The indictment states that the group was loyal to the "blind sheik," Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City, but doesn't provide specifics of that relationship.

Among the other suspects is Mohamed Hesham Youseff, 43, a former baggage handler at Miami International Airport, who records show lived in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood before moving to Egypt in 1998. Three others previously had been charged in the case: Adham Amin Hassoun, a computer programmer who lived in Sunrise with his wife and children; Kifah Wael Jayyousi, a Detroit public school official and Kassem Daher, who owned movie theaters in Alberta, Canada, prior to disappearing two years ago.

The men met at the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Fort Lauderdale in the early 1990s, according to the indictment. Hassoun was the key player, sending money and organizing for recruits to go overseas to such places sas Somalia, Afghanistan, the Serbian province of Kosovo and the Russian republic of Chechnya to wage Islamic holy wars, the indictment states.

Hassoun sent about $60,000 to individuals or groups with terrorist ties between 1994 and 2001, according to the indictment.

One of those recruits, the indictment states, was Padilla. Born in Brooklyn, Padilla grew up in Chicago where he was said to have been a member of the Latin Kings street gang. He moved to South Florida in 1990, first living in Lauderhill, then Plantation, and was well known to local police. He later told authorities that he converted to Islam while incarcerated at the Broward County Jail.

Padilla's family could not be reached for comment Tuesday, despite attempts by telephone.

By 1996, he attracted the attention of Hassoun, who tabbed him as a "mujahideen," according to the indictment. On Sept. 5, 1998, with funds provided by Hassoun, he flew to Cairo and met Youssef, who had been there five months. By September 2000, Youssef reported to Hassoun that Padilla had "entered into the area of Usama," a reference to Osama Bin Laden's terrorism training camps in Afghanistan.

Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, director of the Miami-based American Muslim Association of North America, disputes Hassoun's tie to Padilla.

Hassoun wouldn't have affiliated himself with people he knew wanted to cause harm to the United States, Zakkout said, adding that he thinks the case against Hassoun is political. When Hassoun was first indicted in September 2004, Zakkout questioned the timing, noting that the presidential election was only two months away.

Hassoun's wife and three children left the United States and moved to Lebanon, Zakkout said.

Padilla was arrested May 8, 2002, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. A month later, President Bush announced that Padilla was part of a plot to spread radioactive material across parts of the United States and that he was one of many "would-be killers" in custody.

The indictment returned last Thursday lends no support to that claim. The most serious charges include conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country and providing material support to terrorists overseas. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez declined to comment on the initial "dirty bomb" allegations at a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

The defendants face life in prison if convicted.

Ken Swartz, who represents Hassoun, said, "There is nothing new here, it was all expected and it will finally give us the opportunity to show what we intended to show all along, that he [Hassoun] is innocent." He said given that the case against Padilla hasn't changed substantially in two years, it's plausible the government "wanted to avoid a Supreme Court fight so they just decided to charge him in this case."

Bruce Rogow, a professor at Nova Southeastern University Law School, said given that Padilla was all but named in a similar indictment two years ago, the government's decision to charge him now is "very suspicious" and "raises legitimate [constitutional] concerns."

He said that historically, "in time of war the law is lost and the government can often times do things that it could not do in peace time and there is this sense of war that this government uses to justify its actions. We will see how close a scrutiny the courts will now give it."

Staff Writers Jon Burstein, John Holland, Lisa J. Huriash, Andrew Ryan, Kevin Smith and Staff Researcher Barabara Hijek contributed to this report.

The connections between Padilla, Hassoun and Omer Abdul Rahman can be traced to Gulshair Shukrijumah, the father of dirty bomber wannabe Adnan Shukrijumah, who fled the United States in 2002. Gulshair Shukrijumah died in 2003 ,and had been an Imam at the Al Farooq mosque in Brooklyn which was the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the 1980's and 1990's and still functions in the same capacity today. An example of how one of the first Jihadists to emerge from that group can be seen in the case of El Sayyid Nosair.

What is worth noting is that Nosair came from Egypt and was radicalised in the U.S. Padilla was radicalised in the U.S. and sent by Hassoun to Egypt, which he left finding it not fundamentalist enough for him in Islamic law.


The Tribune-Review
Sunday, August 4, 2002

The first foot-soldier to fire a shot for jihad in America got his start in Pittsburgh.

When El-Sayyid Nosair came here from Egypt in 1981, he was an easy-going young man, friends and former employers told reporters a decade ago. But he appeared to change in Pittsburgh, devoting himself to politics and religion, according to press accounts.

His apparent transformation underscores the danger of radical ideology, experts say.

Nosair is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for killing radical Jewish rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1991 and for a subsequent conviction of conspiring to bomb the World Trade Center and other New York landmarks in 1993.

S. authorities say Nosair studied guerrilla warfare with Ali Mohammed. In the 1993 Trade Center bombing trial and in trials for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa, Mohammed was described as a key bin Laden operative in the United States.

In news reports following Rabbi Kahane's murder, Pittsburghers who knew Nosair described a young immigrant who loved all things American until he suddenly became radicalized. He married a Pittsburgh woman who had converted to Islam, and he worshipped regularly at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, in Oakland.

A former Nosair employer told reporters she was surprised the Egyptian married an American, given his increasingly anti-U.S. views.

In 1985 another Islamic convert living with the Nosairs filed a criminal charge of sexual assault against him. The woman later withdrew the charge and allowed the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to intervene. A mosque official told reporters that Nosair was brought face-to-face with his accuser; mosque elders found the woman at fault, ruling that she tried to blackmail Nosair.

Soon after, Nosair moved his wife and children to New Jersey.

Six years later, he shot Kahane, who founded the militant Jewish Defense League and Kach, an Israeli political group classified as a terrorist organization by both U.S. and Israeli authorities.

Nosair initially was convicted of a weapons charge. But during the 1993 Trade Center trial, prosecutors presented new evidence and convicted him of murdering Kahane and of conspiracy in the Trade Center bombing. They said the imprisoned Nosair used coded letters and phone calls to plot with Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman to blow up New York landmarks and to assassinate government officials.

In taped messages made before killing Kahane, Nosair urged others to launch a jihad. His rant included language echoed years later in Assirat Al-Mustaqeem.

"Remember ye brothers that God the Almighty commanded us to fight," he said, according to a federal transcript of the tape. "Without fighting there will not be justice on earth. … We cannot establish God's rules on earth except by fighting."

A 1999 article in Assirat stated, "It is as if He [God] has said ‘fighting has been sanctioned, let the believers fight.' …This means that without fighting and jihad, righteousness would have been defeated among all people."



The Opening of Jihad on US Soil

by Adina Kutnicki
November 25, 2005

Ever since the horrific public assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane at the Marriott Hotel in New York City in 1990, there has been a small, yet vocal group of individuals trying to get certain US authorities - both state and federal - to pay attention to his murder. Their many entreaties both for personal justice and for a wider investigation fell on deaf ears. Nonetheless, the ramifications from the inaction of these US authorities can no longer be ignored.

This small group's personal pain at the rabbi's cold-blooded assassination fueled their initial anguished pleas. However, there was much more underlying their silenced screams. Just as surely as night follows day, they were convinced about one glaring aspect of Rabbi Kahane's murder: it was the opening salvo by Islamic terrorists in their ongoing war against the US, perpetrated on US soil. Previously, during the 1970s and the 1980s, the Islamists shot several devastating hits aimed at US interests overseas. Not this time.

The logical conclusion that Rabbi Kahane's supporters drew from his murder was crystal clear. Strangely, it coincided with the assessment of the Islamic jihad: if they can eliminate a problematic "radical" rabbi (their first victim of choice) on US soil and get away with it, then the hitherto invincible and impenetrable US would become open for their jihad.

The Islamists counted on the US authorities turning a blind eye to their intentions; and their assumptions proved demonstrably and deadly accurate.

Rabbi Kahane's assassin was an Egyptian named El-Said Nosair. Soon after the murder, the investigating authorities found among Nosair's belongings many boxes of Arabic writings, which for years were inexplicably not translated. Unbelievably, they included detailed plans for the upcoming 1993 World Trade Center bombings. In addition, Nosair was also a protege of Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman, the internationally infamous "blind sheikh" from a Jersey City mosque, convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Furthermore, the gun used to kill Rabbi Kahane was given to him by Wadith El-Hage, a member of Al-Qaeda, who was convicted for the 1998 US embassy bombings. Significantly, in March 1997, an Egyptian Muslim opened fire at more than a dozen people who were congregated on the rooftop of the Empire State Building for a sightseeing visit. Three years later, in the fall of 2000, the USS Cole was attacked, albeit overseas. The nexus to this Islamic hydra was growing exponentially (the above are only some examples of their lethal attacks on US soil and US interests overseas), yet US investigative authorities kept undeniably missing the links. The catastrophic attacks of September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center and the US Pentagon were a direct culmination of their blindness.

However, from day one after Rabbi Kahane's murder, his supporters besieged US authorities to view it as an Islamic act of jihad. But to no avail. Coincidentally, Rabbi Kahane's personal lawyer, Mr. Shannon Taylor, was also at his side when he was gunned down. In fact, he collapsed at Mr. Taylor's feet. He never imagined that the camera he brought along to take pictures of the gathering at the Marriott Hotel would later be used to take photos of a dying Rabbi Kahane. These pictures were taken to compile evidence for eventual prosecutorial purposes. In fact, these same images were the ones which circulated all over the world right after the murder.

Immediately, Mr. Taylor approached the local New York office of the FBI and the US Attorney General's office with sources of information. Acclaimed terror investigator Steve Emerson produced a documentary, Jihad in America, that exposed that the FBI had buried moles and spies deep within some of the Islamic terror cells. However, no tangible results on Rabbi Kahane's murder were forthcoming from the FBI. Coincidentally, Mr. Taylor had the occasion to speak with the newly retired CIA head, William Sessions. Mr. Taylor was flabbergasted to learn that Mr. Sessions never saw the crime scene pictures taken of Rabbi Kahane's murder. This should have been the first order of business, to hand over the pictures to the head of the CIA. After all, that was a logical conclusion to make when Islamic terrorists were being pursued. What was later revealed, though, managed to fill in the blanks as to why no results were forthcoming in Rabbi Kahane's assassination investigation.

In a nutshell, the FBI was not only taken off Rabbi Kahane's case, but all Islamic "infiltrating" was halted. President Clinton ordered the CIA, and the CIA then demanded that the FBI cease and desist. The Congress also put the squeeze on the FBI. Why? The true motives are anyone's guess. However, from 1990 until the 1993 first World Trade Center bombing, these groups were not monitored.

Fifteen years after Rabbi Kahane's murder, National Geographic, much to their credit, finally connected the most undeniable and intrinsic dot in their very well-documented four-part series entitled Inside 9/11. The focus of their documentary was on a timeline of the Islamic jihad against the US. Lo and behold, they concluded, much like Kahane's supporters, that Rabbi Kahane's assassination was the opening of jihad on US soil. This documentary was deemed so important and so relevant that it was made available free of charge to those areas that do not have access to the National Geographic cable channel.

One needn't be a cynic or a conspiracy theorist to make one salient observation: Kahane's murder (that of an often-maligned rabbi, deemed a "radical" and a "racist"), and the lack of a proper investigation into its cause, was of very little import to most. This was especially the case in the non-Jewish communities, and, to a certain extent, in the Jewish communities both in the US and in Israel.

Imagine that. It took fifteen years, and thousands of deaths, to finally point out what should have been obvious to all. That is, that the opening shot fired by the Islamic jihadis on US soil was Rabbi Kahane's assassination, and that the jihad is ongoing - with no end in sight.

Countless lives could have been spared if the investigation into Rabbi Kahane's murder had been given the priority and attention it deserved. It most assuredly would have led investigators to an overarching Islamic jihad plot against the US. Now that the politically incorrect blinders have been taken off, we can only hope and pray that the US authorities will pursue in earnest the Islamic jihadis, regardless of who is killed, and despite where the investigation leads them...

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