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No 'Dirty Bomb' Questions at Padilla Interrogation?

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    An official record of the first FBI interrogation of Jose Padilla following his 2002 arrest contains no reference to al Qaeda or a dirty bomb plot Padilla
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5 7:34 AM
      An official record of the first FBI interrogation of Jose Padilla
      following his 2002 arrest contains no reference to al Qaeda or a
      "dirty bomb" plot Padilla was allegedly spearheading.

      FBI FD-302 From Day Of Padilla's Arrest Inconsistent With Later
      Urgency About Imminent Plot By 'Enemy Combatant'
      By J.M. Berger

      PHOTOS: Stills From Video of Jose Padilla During Enemy Combatant Detention

      Padilla was detained on May 8, 2002, at Chicago's O'Hare Airport,
      where he had been arrested upon entering the country.

      The subsequent FBI interrogation is memorialized in an FD-302 record
      introduced as an exhibit during Padilla's ongoing trial in Florida.
      FD-302 is the FBI's routine form for recording the details of an
      interview by agents.

      During three hours of interrogation, Padilla was asked about his
      personal history, family details and travel, but the record reflects
      no question or answer directly dealing with his alleged ties to al Qaeda.

      Nevertheless, at the end of the session the alleged al Qaeda operative
      was detained on a material witness warrant related to a "conspiracy to
      use weapons of mass destruction."

      More than a month later, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced
      Padilla had been detained as a suspected "dirty bomber."

      Padilla "is an Al Qaeda operative and was exploring a plan to build
      and explode a radioactive 'dirty bomb,'" Ashcroft said.

      According to Ashcroft, the arrest "disrupted an unfolding terrorist
      plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive 'dirty

      "The safety of all Americans and the national security interests of
      the United States require that Abdullah Al Muhajir (Padilla's alias)
      be detained by the Defense Department as an enemy combatant," Ashcroft
      said. Padilla was subsequently detained for more than three years
      without being charged or allowed to meet with an attorney.

      The FD-302 interrogation record does not seem to reflect Ashcroft's
      sense of urgency in any way. The 302 describes an almost leisurely
      discussion of Padilla's personal history and his interest in Islam.
      Padilla was even provided with dinner during a one-hour break after
      the first hour of interrogation.

      However, it is important to note that details may have been omitted
      from the record when it was transcribed, or the form may have been
      edited after the fact.

      Previous internal investigations by the FBI's Inspector General have
      found fault with the lack of standards for FD-302s, including a lack
      of clear guidelines as to the appropriateness of after-the-fact editing.

      One page is also missing from the early part of the document as it was
      filed with the U.S. District Court in Florida. The missing section
      (page 4) is immediately preceded by and followed by a discussion of
      Padilla's family history; the missing page appears to be part of that

      INTELWIRE has posted the document as it was filed. The interrogation
      record may be viewed by clicking here.

      FBI agents present for the interview included Special Agents R.J.
      Holley and Todd T. Schmitt.

      Padilla told the agents his most recent residences were in Cairo and
      Tanta, Egypt, but could not provide an address or phone number for
      either location. He told the FBI he had come to Chicago to visit his
      son, and subsequently planned to visit his mother in Florida.

      Padilla said his first introduction to Islam came while he was in a
      Florida prison serving time on gun charges. There, he met a member of
      the Nation of Islam, who sparked his interest in Islam generally. He
      told FBI agents he could not remember this individual's name.

      The Nation of Islam's beliefs are modeled on traditional Islam, but
      are not the same.

      While in prison, Padilla had a vision that increased his interest in
      the religion.

      "After a fight with another immate, PADILLA was placed in solitary
      confinement as punishment for the altercation," the FBI report states.
      "PADILLA went on a three day hunger strike while in confinement and
      during this time, had a dream which he thought was of significance.

      "In a brief moment during this dream, PADILLA saw himself floating and
      was wearing a black hood and a blue robe. This 'vision' inspired
      PADILLA to focus intently on the study of Islam," the report says.

      Padilla said he studied Islam after his release from prison at the
      Darul Uloom center in Davie, Florida, according to the record. While
      working at a Taco Bell in Davie, he learned to read Arabic and studied
      Islam during the evenings with the hopes of becoming an Islamic scholar.

      According to Padilla, he determined that his vocation would best be
      served by study abroad, and he left the country in 1998, over his
      wife's objections.

      In Egypt, Padilla married a second wife with whom he had two children.
      He studied Salafism, an extremely fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam
      with a strong focus on jihad. He traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia
      during Ramadan of either 1999 or 2000, where he was offered an
      oppourtunity to study Islam in Pakistan, by his own account.

      Padilla refused to answer any detailed questions about his "activities
      and associates in Pakistan," according to the 302 form. According to
      subsequent media reports, those associates included top al Qaeda
      leaders Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, but neither man is
      named in the 302.

      Padilla was asked about the $10,000 in cash found on his person at the
      time of his arrest and said it had been given to him by "an Egyptian
      based man" as a "simple gift by a fellow Muslim who wanted Padilla to
      visit his family and introduce his son to Islam."

      U.S. officials first indicated that the money carried by Padilla was
      intended for use in buying materials for a "dirty bomb," or
      radiological disperson device, which consists of a traditional
      explosive designed to scatter radioactive debris over a wide area.
      Later, U.S. officials backed off of this claim and alleged Padilla was
      plotting to blow up apartment buildings using improvised materials.

      Padilla was also asked whether he was traveling alone, which he
      claimed was the case. However, "PADILLA recalled seeing a man in an
      adjoining office" in Pakistan, where he had been stopped for
      questioning regarding his passport. Padilla had replaced his passport
      before traveling from Pakistan after claiming his first one was stolen.

      Padilla "speculated that (the other man) may have been detained for
      questioning by Pakistani authorities for similar reasons." Padilla
      said he didn't know the man, didn't know what had happened to him
      after the questioning, and "never saw the man previously and it was
      not possible that" the man knew him.

      By the third hour of the interview, Padilla still did not seem unduly
      concerned with the line of questioning. He said he was tired and
      wanted to call his mother and see his son. Padilla became "insulted
      that he was being interviewed when he had done nothing wrong and had
      been cooperative with the agents."

      Finally, at 7:35 p.m., more than four hours after the interrogation
      began, Padilla refused a request to meet with agents the next day. He
      was asked to voluntarily travel with the agents to New York, but refused.

      Padilla was then arrested on a material witness warrant from the
      Southern District of New York to testify before a grand jury about
      information he might possess concerning "a conspiracy to kill U.S.
      nationals, bombing or bombing conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons
      of mass destruction."

      The reference to the warrant -- on page nine of the nine page FD-302
      form -- is the only reference in the entire document to WMDs and the
      only reference that in any way suggests that agents were concerned
      with a "dirty bomb" plot. The record contains no references to al
      Qaeda, or terrorist training camps, and it does not name any al Qaeda
      leaders or operatives.



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