Jury pool queried on link to bomb plot

Some potential jurors connect Islam to worldwide terrorism.

Associated Press
Published April 17, 2007

MIAMI - Potential jurors were questioned about their knowledge of Jose Padilla's link to a purported "dirty bomb" plot as jury selection began Monday for the trial of the man accused of being an al-Qaida operative.

The allegations that Padilla, a U.S. citizen held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years, sought to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" inside the United States are not part of the criminal case. But the Bush administration initially accused Padilla of such a plot shortly after he was arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

"If I said to you the phrase 'dirty bomber,' what does that mean?" U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke asked a prospective juror. "Jose Padilla," the man answered.

Others in the jury pool of more than 300 had definite opinions about a supposed connection between Islam and terrorism around the world.

"I think the religion espouses intolerance of other religions and looks to a situation where they are either going to kill non-Muslims or subjugate them," one potential male juror said.

But another juror said: "I don't think because somebody's Muslim, it makes them violent."

Padilla, 36, and co-defendants Adham Amin Hassoun, 45, and Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 44, face life in prison if convicted of participating in a North American cell that supported Islamic extremist causes around the world.

Federal officials say that during his interrogations, Padilla admitted involvement and training with al-Qaida, the proposed "dirty bomb" plot and a plan to blow up apartment buildings.