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American Muslim Convert Sentenced in Miami on Terrorism Charges

Updated: July 9, 2010

Posted: August 17, 2007

An American Muslim convert convicted of providing material support to terrorists has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.


On January 22, 2008, Jose Padilla, 38, was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison for conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim people in a foreign country, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support to terrorists.  Padilla's co-defendants, Kifah Wael Jayyousi and Adham Amin Hassoun, were handed down prison sentences of more than 12 and 15 years, respectively.  A federal jury in Miami found Padilla, Jayyousi and Hassoun guilty of the charges on August 16, 2007.   


Padilla, arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport while deplaning a flight from Pakistan, was originally accused by the U.S. government of planning to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in an American city.  Padilla was held in U.S. custody as an "enemy combatant" for more than three years before he was indicted by a Miami federal court in November 2005 in an already established case against Jayyousi and Hassoun.


During the trial, prosecutors played intercepted phone calls for the jury and displayed an Al Qaeda terrorist training camp application, or a "mujahedeen data form," containing Padilla's fingerprints, his alleged alias, birthday and other identifying details.


Padilla, born in Brooklyn, New York, reportedly became interested in Islam during or shortly after a Florida prison stay in the early 1990s. By the end of the decade he was in the Middle East meeting with senior Al Qaeda officials. Whether he converted to an extreme version of Islam while a prisoner or whether his prison time merely made him more receptive, it is likely that his imprisonment influenced his eventual conversion.


Padilla has also been linked to Adnan El Shukrijumah, one of the FBI's most wanted terrorists who was charged in July 2010 with organizing a terrorist attack against the New York City subway system.  Padilla and El Shukrijumah allegedly received explosives training together from Al Qaeda and were later assigned to work as partners to carry out an attack in the U.S.  The men, however, reportedly did not get along and their plans were abandoned.

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