Ashcroft announces arrest of an Al Qaeda member in the U.S.

By Staff Writer
May 2, 2002

An American citizen residing in Chicago has been arrested and charged with planning to explode a “radioactive dirty bomb” in the United States, according to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Ashcroft made the announcement that Abdullah al Mujahir (a.k.a. Jose Padilla) was arrested upon his arrival from Pakistan at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on May 8, 2002.

Al Mujahir had been training with al Qaeda since meeting with them in early 2001. Currently, al Mujahir is in military custody – pending charges – where he is being treated as an “enemy combatant.”

According to Ashcroft and ABC News, al Mujahir is a former street gang member, who converted to Islam while in a Chicago prison during the 1990s. Al Mujahir traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to train with al Qaeda after serving his prison time. Al Mujahir was also trained in “wiring explosives” and “(creating) radioactive dispersion devices.”

Ashcroft’s latest announcement comes on the heels of a new FBI warning, which states that U.S. subway systems could be a new target of nerve gas attacks. The warning, which included cities like New York and Philadelphia, is the first warning issued regarding transit systems in U.S. cities.

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