Miami, Florida (AP) -- Jurors reached a verdict Thursday in the trial of Jose Padilla and two co-defendants charged with supporting al Qaeda and other violent Islamic extremist groups overseas.
Former "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla squints in the Miami sun after his transfer from a Navy brig.
The jury's verdict is scheduled to be read at 2 p.m. EDT before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami's downtown federal courthouse.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about a day and a half following a three-month trial.
Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face possible sentences of life in prison if convicted of all three charges in the case.
Prosecutors argued that Padilla was a "star recruit" for a terrorism support cell that provided Muslim extremist soldiers to fight around the globe with al Qaeda.
His defense attorneys, who put on no evidence, told the jury that the charges were overblown and U.S. government prosecutors were preying on post-9/11 fears. The defense said prosecutors repeatedly invoked Osama bin Laden's name to scare jurors.
The verdict followed a three-month trial in which prosecutors have tried to prove that Padilla, 36, and two others provided support to terrorists.
Padilla was held for three-and-a-half years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest in a purported al Qaeda "dirty bomb" plot. His trial with co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi on conspiracy and material support charges does not include those allegations.
Padilla was the centerpiece of the case, largely because prosecutors say he links the other two to al Qaeda and bin Laden.
Prosecutors wanted jurors to convict Padilla largely on a five-page "mujahedeen data form" he supposedly filled out in 2000 to attend an al Qaeda terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Padilla is a U.S. citizen.
"You are already inside the al Qaeda organization when you get this form to fill out," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier told jurors in his closing argument. "He provided himself to al Qaeda for training to learn how to murder, kidnap and maim."
Padilla has been in custody since his May 8, 2002, arrest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. His journey through the legal system was unprecedented.
His lawyers fought for years against President Bush's decision to designate him an enemy combatant, taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. With that case drawing closer, the Bush administration decided in late 2005 to add Padilla to an existing Miami terror support indictment and drop the enemy combatant designation.
The CIA recovered the al Qaeda "mujahedeen data form" that is central in the case in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion in late 2001. It contains seven of Padilla's fingerprints, one of his alleged Muslim alias names, his true birthday, notes the applicant's ability to speak English, Spanish and Arabic and has other identifying details.
But there was little other hard evidence linking Padilla, a Muslim convert, to al Qaeda or to the alleged North American terror support cell prosecutors say was operated by Hassoun, Jayyousi and others. Thousands of hours of FBI wiretap intercepts from 1993 to 2001 include many conversations between Hassoun and Jayyousi, but Padilla's voice is heard on only seven.
Padilla's defense called no witnesses on his behalf and introduced no evidence. His lawyers adopted the risky strategy of suggesting to the jurors that prosecutors failed to prove he conspired with the others or provided material support to terrorists.
Prosecutors contend that Hassoun and Jayyousi, both 45, were U.S.-based operatives for al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups, providing recruits such as Padilla as well as money and supplies for violent organizations around the world. Another alleged recruit, Mohamed Hesham Youssef, was also indicted in Miami but has remained in custody in Egypt.
Evidence in the case includes checks written by Hassoun and Jayyousi to various organizations that prosecutors say were involved in terrorism. Defense lawyers contend the assistance was intended to help persecuted Muslims in conflict zones such as Chechnya, Bosnia, Somalia, Lebanon and elsewhere.
FBI agents testified that the telephone conversations were often in code, with "football" or "tourism" meaning "jihad" and words such as "zucchini" and "eggplant" meaning weapons or ammunition. Yet Padilla was never heard using such code, testimony showed
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