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Judge agrees Padilla terror case ‘light on facts’

The judge in the Jose Padilla terror case said she agreed with defense attorneys claims that the indictments against Padilla and his co-defendants is “very light on facts.”
/ Source: The Associated Press

A federal judge ordered prosecutors to turn over more evidence to back up allegations that Jose Padilla and two co-defendants conspired to kill, injure or kidnap people overseas as part of a global Islamic terrorist network.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke said Tuesday she agreed with claims made by defense attorneys that the indictment against Padilla and the others is “very light on facts” that would link the defendants to specific acts of terrorism or victims.

“We are so shooting in the dark,” said Jeanne Baker, one of the attorneys representing defendant Adham Amin Hassoun. “The government has to tell us, what are these acts they conspired to commit?”

Hassoun, Padilla, Kifah Wael Jayyousi and two others who are in custody overseas are charged with being part of a North American terror support cell that provided money, recruits and supplies to al-Qaida and other violent Islamic extremist organizations. All have pleaded not guilty, with trial scheduled for this fall.

Cooke ordered the government to flesh out its charges by providing defense lawyers with names of unindicted co-conspirators, broad descriptions of intended victims of alleged acts of violence and specifics about false statements Hassoun allegedly made about the meaning of phone calls intercepted by the government.

Evidence already provided?
Prosecutors argued that most of the specifics were being turned over already, mainly in the form of more than 225 key phone intercepts. And there were 80 specific illegal acts alleged in the indictment, said Brian Frazier, an assistant U.S. attorney.

“What is terrorism but a random act of violence? It means anyone could be a victim at any time,” Frazier said.

Earlier Tuesday, another federal judge heard arguments from Hassoun’s lawyers seeking to suppress evidence seized by the FBI from his Broward County home in 2002, saying the FBI “frightened and intimidated” his wife before seizing a handgun and other key evidence such as documents in Arabic and videotapes.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Brown did not indicate when he would rule the motion.

Jailed for 3½ years without charge
Padilla was designated an “enemy combatant” and held for 3½ years without charge by the Bush administration shortly after his May 2002 arrest. He was accused then of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a major U.S. city.

Padilla was added as a defendant in the Miami terror support cell case last year amid a legal struggle over President Bush’s authority to hold him indefinitely. The Miami indictment does not mention the “dirty bomb” allegations.