RealNews

Terror Suspect's Path From Streets to Brig

About 10 months after Jose Padilla disappeared into a naval brig in South Carolina, a Pentagon official appeared at his mother’s workplace in Florida with a greeting card. When Estela Ortega Lebron saw the familiar pinched handwriting, she trembled, knowing, before even reading the card, that it was for real, the first evidence of her son’s existence since he was seized by the American military in June 2002. “In the name of God the merciful the mercy giver,” Mr. Padilla wrote, “I have been allowed to write you a card and just letting you know I’m doing fine and in good health. Do not believe what is being said about me in the news it is untrue and I pray that we can have a reunion. Love your son Pucho.” Pucho was Mr. Padilla’s childhood nickname. That card was the sum and substance of Mr. Padilla’s communication with the outside world for about 21 months. Brooklyn-born and Chicago-bred, a Muslim convert of Puerto Rican descent, Mr. Padilla, 33, was first arrested at O’Hare International Airport in May 2002. A month later, President Bush took the extraordinary step of declaring him an “enemy combatant,” and the military placed Mr. Padilla, whom the government accused of plotting a radiological “dirty bomb” attack, in solitary confinement. Full Story

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