Padilla's fingerprints were found on al-Qaida document, jury is told

NATION DIGEST

May 18, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MIAMI -- A former FBI fingerprint specialist testified yesterday that terrorism suspect Jose Padilla's fingerprints match at least seven of 45 latent prints found on an alleged application for al-Qaida jihad training.

But Padilla's public defenders cast doubt on the validity of the prints and the so-called Mujahedeen Data Form, a cornerstone of the government's case. The form has been described by other expert witnesses as a would-be jihadist's "pledge" to fight on behalf of embattled Muslims abroad.

The application is the only known evidence suggesting Padilla, 36, ever went to Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden's network offered weapons and warfare training in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Neither Padilla nor his two co-defendants are on trial for any crime related to Sept. 11. They are charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap or maim persons abroad and with material support to terrorists.

Their defense is that they were engaged in humanitarian actions in support of Muslims under siege in such places as Bosnia, Chechnya and Kosovo.

No organization name appears on the application, nor is Padilla's name on it. The applicant is identified in a section for nicknames or aliases as "Abu Abdallah Al-Mujahir," an Arabic phrase that means "Abdallah's father the Immigrant," FBI translator Nancy Khouri told the jury.

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