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Padilla's voice heard on FBI wiretap during trial

Published June 9, 2007


MIAMI - Jurors in the terrorism support and conspiracy trial of Jose Padilla heard his voice on an FBI wiretap for the first time Friday, in a conversation that prosecutors say proves he was getting ready to fight in a jihad overseas.

In the July 1997 intercepted phone call, co-defendant Adham Amin Hassoun tells Padilla in English that "the most important thing is that you tell me you're ready." The FBI's lead investigator in the case testified that Hassoun was talking about going to an area of jihad, or Islamic holy war.

"God willing ... it's going to happen soon, " Padilla responds. He later adds: "Believe me, brother, it's going to happen soon."

Padilla also tells Hassoun that he is prepared to obey an "emir, " or commander, wherever he is sent, even if that person is younger.

"You have to have a lot of discipline too, brother, " Padilla says on the tape. "You have to have discipline and obedience."

Prosecutors say Hassoun recruited Padilla to fight for Islamic extremist causes overseas as part of a North American jihad support network. Hassoun, who was a prominent speaker and fundraiser in South Florida mosques, met Padilla while both were living in Broward County just north of Miami.

Padilla, Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi are charged with being part of a support cell for Islamic extremist groups worldwide, including al-Qaida.

Padilla, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on suspicion of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States. He was held as an enemy combatant for 3 1/2 years before he was added in 2005 to the Miami terrorism support case, which does not include the "dirty bomb" allegations.

The FBI wiretaps from 1994-2001 form the heart of the prosecution's case against the three defendants. Padilla's voice is heard on seven intercepts, and he is mentioned on about two dozen others. Another alleged Hassoun recruit, Mohamed Hesham Youssef, is on many more of the tapes. Youssef was also indicted in the Miami case but is in custody in Egypt and is not part of the current trial.

[Last modified June 9, 2007, 02:28:16]

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