Sunday, January 7, 2007

Why Are Some Americans Sympathizing With Abdullah al-Muhajir (Jose Padilla)?

Since his arrest on charges of conspiring to "murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country", Jose Padilla (now Abdullah al-Muhajir) has been the poster-boy for “the inherent abuses of the Patriot Act.”

And that would be fine, except for one thing, Abdullah al-Muhajir is everything the U.S. government claims he is, but the Left rarely lets reality get in the way of good theater, so why make an exception here?

This past August, one charge was dropped against Padilla/al-Muhajir on a technicality by Judge Marcia Cooke.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said in a written opinion that the charge - conspiracy to "murder, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country" - duplicated other counts in a federal grand jury indictment handed down last year.

"An indictment is multiplicitous when it charges a single offense multiple times, in separate counts," Cooke wrote. As charged, she added, the indictment exposes Padilla and his co-defendants to multiple punishments for a single crime.

The indictment, Cooke noted, "alleges one and only one conspiracy" and that the same facts are "re-alleged in each of the consecutive counts."

“We stand by the charges in this indictment and will respond after a full review of the court's order," U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said.

Padilla/Muhajir was arrested in May 2002 returning from overseas at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. He was arrested carrying $10,526, a cell phone and e-mail addresses for al-Qaida operatives.

President Bush designated him an enemy combatant the next month and turned him over to the military.

Padilla/Muhajir has pleaded “not guilty” to the charges. Two co-defendants -- Adham Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi -- also have pleaded not guilty. A fourth defendant, Mohamed Hesham Yousef, is in custody in Egypt. The whereabouts of a fifth defendant, Kassem Daher, is not known.

The indictment alleges the men belonged to a North American terrorist support cell and intended to carry out jihad, or holy war, in foreign countries.

Padilla/Muhajir was originally accused of -- but never charged with -- being a potential "dirty bomber," plotting to detonate a crude radioactive device in the United States, and later scheming to blow up apartment buildings using natural gas.

The U.S. government maintains that Padilla/Muhajir trained at al Qaeda military camps in Afghanistan in 2000, after being recruited by a Yemeni man whom he met on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Born in Brooklyn, New York in October of 1970, Jose Padilla became a member of the violent street gang, the Latin Kings, after moving to Chicago.

He was convicted of aggravated assault as a juvenile when a gang member he kicked in the head died. After serving his last jail sentence, he converted to Islam and professed a nonviolent philosophy. He went to the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with Adham Amin Hassoun, who at that time was the registered agent for Benevolence International Foundation, a charitable trust which U.S. investigators have accused of funding terrorist activities. Padilla and Hassoun became friends. U.S. authorities accuse Hassoun of consorting with radical Islamic fundamentalists, including Al-Qaeda. Hassoun was arrested in 2002 for overstaying his visa.

On June 9, 2002 President Bush issued an order to Secretary Rumsfeld to detain Padilla as an "enemy combatant," and Padilla was transferred to a military brig in South Carolina without any notice to his attorney or family. The order legally justified the detention using AUMF, which authorized the President to "use all necessary force against . . . such nations, organizations, or persons" and by opining that a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil can be classified an enemy combatant. (This opinion is based on the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of ex parte Quirin, a case involving the detention of a group of German-Americans working for Nazi Germany).

That decision was appealed and a decision in Padilla's favor was issued in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.

On June 13, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the government's petition to have his case heard directly by the court, instead of the appeal being first heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

On September 9, 2005, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that President Bush does indeed have the authority to detain Padilla without charges, in an opinion written by judge J. Michael Luttig. In the ruling, Luttig cited the joint resolution by Congress authorizing military action following the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as the June 2004 ruling concerning Yaser Hamdi. Attorneys for Padilla, plus a host of civil liberties organizations, blasted the detention as illegal. They said it could lead to the military holding anyone, from protesters to people who check out what the government considers the wrong books from the library. The Bush Administration denied the allegations.

Padilla was indicted on three criminal counts in the Miami, Florida criminal proceeding to which he was transferred from military custody. As of August of 2006, the trial was scheduled to commence on January 22, 2007

March 2002: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, purported mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and al-Qaida's operational planner and organizer, allegedly suggests Jose Padilla target up to three high-rise buildings that use natural gas with a radiological "dirty bomb."

May 8, 2002: Padilla arrives at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after an overseas trip, carrying $10,526, a cell phone and e-mail addresses for al-Qaida operatives. He is arrested on a material witness warrant.

June 9, 2002: Padilla is listed as an "enemy combatant" and transferred to the Defense Department.

Dec. 18, 2003: The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals orders Padilla to be released from military custody within 30 days and if the government chooses, tried in civilian courts.

Jan. 22, 2004: The 2nd Circuit suspends its ruling after the Bush administration appeals the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

March 3, 2004: Lawyers for Padilla meet with him for the first time since his incarceration at a naval brig in June 2002.

June 28, 2004: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rules that Padilla should have filed his appeal in federal court in Charleston, S.C., because he is being held at a Navy brig there, rather than in New York.

Sept. 9, 2005: A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the government can continue to hold Padilla indefinitely.

Oct. 25, 2005: Padilla appeals the appeals court decision to the Supreme Court. The Bush administration's deadline for filing arguments is Nov. 28.

Nov. 22, 2005: Padilla is indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on charges that he conspired to "murder, kidnap and maim" people overseas. The charges do not include any allegations of a "dirty bomb" plot or other plans for U.S. attacks.

Dec. 21, 2005: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig chastises the administration for using one set of facts to justify holding Padilla without charges and another set to persuade a grand jury in Florida to indict him. Luttig said the administration has risked its "credibility before the courts."

Jan. 4, 2006: Supreme Court agrees to let the military transfer Padilla to Miami to face criminal charges, overruling the 4th Circuit.

Jan. 12, 2006: Padilla pleads not guilty to charges alleging he was part of a secret network that supported Muslim terrorists. The charges could bring a life in prison sentence.

April 3, 2006: Supreme Court rejects Padilla's appeal, although Chief Justice John Roberts and other key justices said that they would be watching to ensure Padilla receives the protections "guaranteed to all federal criminal defendants."

Aug. 16, 2006: Federal trial court in Miami, Florida dismisses conspiracy to murder charges against Padilla, leaving the most serious charge still pending a charge that could bring a 15 year prison sentence.

Oct., 2006: Padilla moves to dismiss the federal criminal case against him alleging that he had been tortured and that proceedings had been delayed too long from his arrest in May of 2002.

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