MIAMI — Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting with al-Qaida to blow up a radioactive “dirty bomb,” was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years and four months on terrorism conspiracy charges that don’t mention those initial allegations.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke imposed the sentence on the 37-year-old Muslim convert, a U.S. citizen who was held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant after his 2002 arrest amid the “dirty bomb” allegations.
Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Cook said she arrived at the 17-year sentence after considering the “harsh conditions” during Padilla’s lengthy military detention at a Navy brig in South Carolina.
However, he did not get credit for time served.
Padilla’s lawyers claimed his treatment amounted to torture, which U.S. officials have repeatedly denied.
Cooke also imposed prison terms on two other men of Middle Eastern origin who were convicted of conspiracy and material support charges along with Padilla in August. The three were part of a North American support cell for al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists around the world, prosecutors said.
The jury was told that Padilla was recruited by Islamic extremists in the U.S. and filled out an application to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.
Cooke said that as serious as the conspiracy was, there was no evidence linking the men to specific acts of terrorism anywhere.
“There is no evidence that these defendants personally maimed, kidnapped or killed anyone in the United States or elsewhere,” she said.