|Page 3 of 3 <|
Jury Convicts Jose Padilla of Terror Charges
But in closing arguments prosecutors mentioned al-Qaeda more than 100 times, by one defense count, and urged jurors to in essence think of al-Qaeda and groups affiliated with it as an international murder conspiracy.
They told jurors to look beyond each piece of evidence -- many of which seemed weak in isolation -- and view it in its totality.
None of the defendants testified at trial.
Padilla "trained to kill," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Frazier told the jury in closing arguments this week. "That is why this is a murder conspiracy."
After the verdict Thursday, defense lawyers said they were disappointed. During closing arguments, they asked jurors to reject the government's "overreaching" in a time of terrorism fears.
After the verdict, they attributed the jury's findings to "scare tactics" by the prosecution -- specifically, the playing of a 1997 CNN interview with Osama bin Laden.
The prosecution introduced the video as a way of providing context to a wiretapped conversation in which Padilla's co-defendants appeared to discuss the al-Qaeda leader with approval.
"Yea, Osama bin Laden!" Hassoun, the alleged recruiter for the cell, told Jayyousi in the call.
"Allahu Akbar" ("God is the greatest"), Jayyousi responded, according to a translated transcript of the call. "Please tape it."
Since none of the defendants is alleged to have spoken with bin Laden, defense lawyers complained that the interview was used only to arouse in jurors passions and memories associated with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"We thought from the beginning that the Osama bin Laden tape was terribly damaging and terribly irrelevant," said Jeanne Baker, one of Hassoun's attorneys. "It will be one of the issues on appeal."