Al Qaeda’s first U.S. recruit gets sentence increased from 17 to 21 years

Al Qaeda’s first U.S. recruit gets sentence increased from 17 to 21 years

Following an appellate court decision that the sentence handed down to a convicted al Qaeda collaborator was too lenient, a Miami federal district court judge re-sentenced Jose Padilla Tuesday to 21 years in prison, a four year increase from his original 2007 sentence.

In exchange for a promise that the defense refrain from introducing records relating to the harsh treatment Padilla allegedly received during his 3-1/2 years at a South Carolina military prison, federal prosecutors agreed to seek no more than a 30-year sentence, according to Reuters.

“There are certain things we know and don’t know about how Mr. Padilla was held,” U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said before handing down the stiffer sentence.

According to Reuters:

Padilla sat shackled in a khaki jumpsuit and did not speak during the two-hour hearing. Under his new sentence, Cooke also ordered Padilla remain held in a super-maximum security prison.

Padilla, an al Qaeda recruit and the first U.S. citizen deemed an enemy combatant, was convicted in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people abroad, as well as conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism.

WSVN-Miami’s Eugene Ramirez first broke the story just before noon Tuesday on Twitter, and indicated the judge followed the sentence recommendations of Padilla’s lawyers.

A few minutes later, Ramirez’s TV station followed up with a photo of Padilla.

According to Reuters:

Padilla was arrested in 2002 as he returned to Chicago from abroad, where prosecutors said he spent time at a military training camp in Afghanistan.

He was accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city, but was never charged with that. Then President George W. Bush ordered him held as an enemy combatant and interrogated in a South Carolina military prison.

“His actual involvement in jihad, his actual training, sets him apart,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Del Toro, Reuters reported.

It certainly does. And no matter how he may or may not have been treated while incarcerated, I don’t believe the addition of a mere four years to his sentence properly reflects just how far his activity sets him apart.

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz is a recovering Michigan trial lawyer and former research vessel deck officer. He has written extensively for BizPac Review.


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