Terrorist Padilla gets 17 years


PADILLA
PADILLA

In this Jan. 5, 2006, file photo, Jose Padilla, center, is escorted by federal marshals on his arrival in Miami. Padilla has spent more than five years in custody, first as a purported "dirty bomb" plotter and then for allegedly being part of a support cell for Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida. This week, a federal judge will decide whether Padilla, 37, and two co-defendants should spend the rest of their lives behind bars or if they deserve more lenient sentences.

Alan Diaz/The Associated Press, file photo
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 1:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 1:07 p.m.

MIAMI - Convicted terrorism conspirator Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a major city, was sentenced Tuesday 17 years and four months in prison on charges that don't mention those initial allegations.

The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke marks another step in the extraordinary personal and legal odyssey for the 37-year-old Muslim convert, a U.S. citizen was held for 3 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the "dirty bomb" allegations.

Cooke also imposed prison terms on two other men of Middle Eastern origin who were convicted of conspiracy and material support charges along with Padilla in August. The three were part of a North American support cell for al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists around the world, prosecutors said.

Padilla was added in 2005 to an existing Miami terrorism support case just as the U.S. Supreme Court was considering his challenge to President Bush's decision to hold him in custody indefinitely without charge. The "dirty bomb" charges were quietly discarded and were never part of the criminal case.

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