Verdict: Padilla is Guilty, Faces Life in Prison

Updated: In a verdict today in a controversial American anti-terrorism trial, Jose Padilla and two co-defendants have been found guilty on all charges.

Following a three-month trial and not quite two days of deliberation, a seven-man, five-woman federal court jury in Miami found the three guilty today, reports CNN. The most serious charges of conspiring to “murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas, as the New York Times put it in an article yesterday, carry potential life prison terms. The three were each also found guilty of two counts of providing material terrorism support, according to CNN.

An American and former Chicago gang member who converted to Islam, Padilla, 36, was initially arrested in 2002 and accused of having plotted to detonate a so-called dirty bomb. However, that charge was dropped, and the case made against him at trial was that he had participated with two more experienced alleged al-Qaida operatives in efforts to support the terrorist group. The dirty-bomb case was dropped in part because his Miranda and legal counsel rights were violated while he was in military custody, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors said Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi were, both 45, were part of a North American support cell providing money, supplies and recruits to Islamic extremists. However, the defense said they were merely trying to provide humanitarian aid to persecuted Muslims in war zones. Padilla’s counsel also portrayed him as a follower rather than a leader, neither particularly bright nor, because of his limited Arabic skills, necessarily fully aware of what was going on.

Counsel for Hassoun and Jayyousi said in televised interviews with CNN immediately after the verdict that their clients are not guilty and will appeal. Padilla’s mother says her son is innocent and will appeal, reports Bloomberg.

Critics described the case as light on hard evidence. As the London Times said in a July 29 article, the trial “turned out to be missing a crucial ingredient—evidence that he actually did anything wrong.” It described the case as a “potential embarassment” for the U.S. As a headline yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor put it, the case provides “A verdict on Padilla—and the U.S.” That article also criticized the prosecution.

(Originally posted at 11:57 central time.)

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