No Bail For Terror Suspect Padilla

Jose Padilla, the alleged al-Qaida operative held as an "enemy combatant" for more than three years arrives in Miami, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2006.
AP
A federal judge refused to set bail for terror suspect Jose Padilla on Friday after hearing about his extensive travel overseas and his history of skipping bail in criminal cases.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke upheld another judge's ruling that Padilla would remain jailed without bond because he likely would attempt to flee prosecution and remained a danger to the community.

Padilla, a 35-year-old U.S. citizen and former Chicago gang member, is charged with being a recruit for a North American terror cell that provided fighters, money and supplies to Islamic extremists around the world.

"No surprise at all," says CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "Even though the government doesn't believe any more that he is a dirty-bomb suspect the feds still believe he is a threat to security. And that means no bail."

He was held for 3½ years by the military as an "enemy combatant" before he was charged in civilian court late last year.

Federal prosecutor Stephanie Pell said Padilla had a history of arrests and convictions for violent crimes — including murder as a juvenile in 1985 — and had forfeited bond by failing to appear on four other occasions. Padilla had been arrested previously on charges including assault and battery, marijuana possession and illegal weapons, and he served a year in Florida prison for a weapons conviction, records show.

Padilla also has a wife and children overseas, has used aliases and has traveled in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pell said.

"He has the motive and the way to leave, and he will do so," she said.

Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in May 2002.

Initially, he was accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a major U.S. city as an al Qaeda terror operative. But the charges brought in federal court do not mention that, alleging only that he conspired to commit violence overseas and that he provided material support to terrorists.

Trial is scheduled to begin in early September for Padilla, who is charged along with four other men in the case. All have pleaded not guilty.

Padilla did not speak during the hearing but turned during breaks to smile and wave at family members.

Assistant public defender Michael Caruso called the prosecution's case "weak" because it is based largely on disputed transcripts of thousands of telephone calls translated from Arabic.

Even if the translations are accurate, he said, they don't prove that Padilla was involved in any violent plots.

But Cooke agreed with prosecutors that those questions should be left for a jury and had no direct bearing on whether Padilla should be granted bail. She also she was mindful of Padilla's long detention as an "enemy combatant" but that also did not figure into her decision on bail.