Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
(202) 514-2008
TDD (202) 514-1888


“The Department of Justice will seek a stay and further judicial review of the 2-1 decision issued by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals today in the Padilla case. In times of war, the President must have the authority to act when an individual associated with our nation’s enemies enters our country to endanger American lives. As U.S. Circuit Judge Richard C. Wesley said in dissent, ‘[T]he President, as Commander in Chief, has inherent authority to thwart acts of belligerency on U.S. soil that would cause harm to U.S. citizens, and, in this case, Congress through the Joint Resolution specifically and directly authorized the President to take the actions herein contested.... Congress could not have intended to limit the President’s authority to only those al Qaeda operatives who actually planned or took part in 9-11.... Clearly, Congress recognized that al Qaeda and those who now do its bidding are a continuing threat to the United States.’”

“As the Fourth Circuit unanimously ruled in July 2002, ‘[Great] deference extends to military designations of individuals as enemy combatants in times of active hostilities, as well as to their detention after capture on the field of battle. The authority to capture those who take up arms against America belongs to the Commander in Chief.’”

Additional background information:

Padilla Was Closely Associated with Al Qaeda and Trained and Worked Under Their Direction:

After his release from prison in the United States in the early 1990s, Padilla traveled to Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan, taking the name Abdullah Al Muhajir.

Padilla met with senior al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah, on several occasions while in Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2001 and 2002.

At the direction of al Qaeda, Padilla received training from al Qaeda operatives, including how to wire explosive devices. Padilla also conducted research on construction of a uranium-enhanced explosive device at al Qaeda’s safehouse in Lahore, Pakistan.

Padilla discussed with senior al Qaeda operatives his involvement and participation in terrorist operations targeting the United States, including a plan to detonate a “radiological dispersal device” (or “dirty bomb”) within the United States as well as other operations involving the detonation of explosive devices in hotel rooms and gas stations.

Padilla was directed by al Qaeda members to return to the United States to explore and advance the conduct of further attacks against the United States on al Qaeda’s behalf.

Multiple Intelligence Sources Separately Confirmed Padilla’s Involvement in Planning Future Terrorist Attacks Against the United States with Al Qaeda Leaders. As the Supreme Court said in the unanimous Quirin decision, sustaining the constitutionality of military detention without regard to the combatants’ citizenship: “[c]itizens who associate themselves with the military arm of the enemy government, and with its aid, guidance and direction enter this country bent on hostile acts are enemy belligerents within the meaning of the Hague Convention and the law of war.

The Detainment of Padilla by Authorities May Have Prevented the Escalation of His Plan for Further Terrorist Attacks. Padilla, a.k.a. Al Muhajir, was arrested on May 8 when he flew from Pakistan to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. That arrest disrupted the exploration of potential terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

The President Determined that Padilla Poses a Threat to Americans. On Sunday, June 9, 2002, President Bush, acting as Commander in Chief, determined that Abdullah al Muhajir, born in the United States as Jose Padilla, is an enemy combatant who poses a serious and continuing threat to the American people and our national security. Al Muhajir was subsequently transferred from the custody of the Justice Department to the control of the Defense Department.



Source: Justice Department