Backing up the designation of al-Qaeda soldier Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant, Justice Department officials today released a declassified document showing that the American citizen trained to blow up U.S. hotels and apartment buildings and plotted a possible “dirty bomb” attack.
The document, which includes information provided by Padilla, 33, during interrogation sessions, describe his plans to locate “high-rise apartment buildings which had natural gas supplied to the floors.” The plan, Padilla told investigators, was to “rent two apartments in each building, seal all the openings, turn on the gas, and set timers to detonate the buildings simultaneously at a later time.” The document, a copy of which you’ll find below, notes that Padilla met with various al-Qaeda leaders, including Muhammad Atef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who wanted him to “hit targets in New York City, although Florida and Washington, D.C. were discussed as well.”
In May 2002, Padilla was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare airport after flying into the U.S. from Pakistan. Investigators were tipped to Padilla’s al-Qaeda connection by Abu Zubaydah, an Osama bin Laden deputy in American custody. In June 2002, President George W. Bush ordered Padilla held as an enemy combatant, and the al-Qaeda member was turned over to the Department of Defense. Since then, Padilla, who has not been charged, has been imprisoned at a Navy brig in South Carolina.