MIAMI (AP) — Convicted terrorism plotter Jose Padilla will be resentenced in December after an appeals court concluded that his current 17-year prison term was far too lenient for a trained al-Qaida soldier and former violent gang member.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke on Wednesday set a Dec. 3 date for resentencing. Prosecutors previously sought the maximum life sentence for Padilla but declined to say whether they would do so again.
Padilla, a 41-year-old U.S. citizen and Muslim convert, was convicted in 2007 along with two others of terrorism support and conspiracy charges. Prior to his indictment in Miami, Padilla was held at a Navy brig for more than three years without charge as an enemy combatant.
When Cooke sentenced Padilla in 2008, she gave him credit for his time in the brig and provided other sentencing discounts totaling about 12 years below the 30-year minimum for his convictions. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Justice Department in concluding Cooke committed several errors in not adding years for Padilla's training at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan and accounting for his 17 prior arrests.
"Padilla poses a heightened risk of dangerousness due to his al-Qaida training," the court's majority opinion said. "He is far more sophisticated than an individual convicted of an ordinary street crime."
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Padilla's appeal of that ruling.
Padilla is being held in solitary confinement at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo., said his attorney, chief federal public defender Michael Caruso. He said at a hearing Wednesday that he has "very limited" contact with Padilla because of prison restrictions regarding access.
"He's developed a routine to keep his mental health," Caruso added, declining to elaborate.
Padilla was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on what authorities said in the tense post-9/11 attacks atmosphere was an al-Qaida mission to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a major U.S. city. It later turned out the plot was barely more than a sketchy idea and the allegation was discarded long before Padilla was added to an existing Miami terrorism support case.