Jose Padilla Gets 17 Years

Jose Padilla, a/k/a Abdullah al-Muhajir or Muhajir Abdullah, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for crimes unrelated to those for which he was arrested six years ago.

Jose Padilla Gets 17 Years Jose Padilla is pictured in this undated Florida driver Convicted terrorism conspirator Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a major city, was sentenced Tuesday 17 years and four months in prison on charges that don’t mention those initial allegations.

The sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke marks another step in the extraordinary personal and legal odyssey for the 37-year-old Muslim convert, a U.S. citizen was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the “dirty bomb” allegations.

Prosecutors were pushing for a life sentence and Padilla’s attorneys argued he should get no more than ten; it appears the judge split the difference.

Given that he was unconstitutionally detained for 3-1/2 years, one would think he would be entitled to some offset in his sentence.

That said, Padilla’s no hero. He is indeed a terrorist who trained with al Qaeda and conspired to kill Americans. He was ultimately convicted of that in the course of the normal due process to which his citizenship entitled him. It’s a pity, however, that he became a cause célèbre in the process.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Terrorism, US Constitution, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tlaloc says:

    It’s a pity, however, that he became a cause célèbre in the process.

    If I recall correctly Miranda was no sweetheart either, but “Miranda Rights” are important.

    I don’t see his celebrity as a pity, unless you mean the underlying circumstances. The focus and attention was needed, is still needed, since the problems are still largely unresolved.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I don’t see his celebrity as a pity, unless you mean the underlying circumstances.

    Yes, that’s what I mean. The guy’s a dirtbag but, because of the way he’s been handled, we’ve managed to aid his cause.

  3. Tom p says:

    “There but for the grace of God…”

    And I do NOT mean I wish any “bad things” On the USofA… All I am saying is that the way things were handled in his case, could just as easily have been applied to any of us.

    As Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, so you do unto me.”

    And I wonder… why do so many not understand this one simple fact?

  4. Adriane says:

    So Jose Padilla wanted to fill Jesus’ apartment with natural gas & blow it up???

    Now that’s some street cred, bro!!!

  5. Christopher says:

    Tom p

    What a typical lib you are! Move to Canada for gawds sakes! Happen to the rest of us? HOW?!? When has it ever happened to anyone else that wasn’t guilty of terrorism? You liberals are PATHETIC.

  6. C.Wagener says:

    Isn’t it at least an open question whether Padilla was held unconstitutionally? FDR held 8 saboteurs who landing in NY during WW II, 2 of which were American. The Supreme Court looked at the status of the two Americans and found FDR did nothing wrong. When Americans conspire with foreign enemies, the Court found that detention with out charges was valid since the detention was not for punishment, but to prevent further hostile acts.

    Is there case law that has changed this?

  7. tom p says:

    “When has it ever happened to anyone else that wasn’t guilty of terrorism?”

    Funny you should mention Canada, Christopher… I seem to recall the case of a totally innocent Canadian who was dropped off on a Romanian hillside after spending months in a Syrian prison… Think about it… Syria???? And I cannot help but notice that you totally ignore the fact that Padilla is a US citizen, arrested on US soil, and deprived of the same rights you would be screaming you are entitled to.

    I may be a “pathetic liberal” but at least I am not delusional.

    Jose Padilla is no saint… Saints generally don’t end up in a Navy brig… But guess what? Neither am I. Nor are you. But the man had RIGHTS… and you don’t care. THIS is what is truly sad about this whole affair, the fact that you don’t care.

    As Ben Franklin said (or something to the effect): “Those who would give up liberty for security are deserving of neither.”