Skip to comments.Jose Padilla and John Doe No. 2
Posted on 04/30/2004 1:10:49 PM PDT by EggsAckley
Shortly after the announcement of alleged al Qaeda dirty bomber Jose Padilla's arrest in June 2002, a number of Internet sites posted a comparison of Padilla's 1991 mug shot to a police sketch of John Doe No. 2, a never-apprehended suspect in the Oklahoma City bombing. Stories on the comparison appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Herald, as well as on the Web site of the Village Voice, NBC's "Today Show," and NPR's "Here and Now" radio news program, among others.
INTELWIRE has extensively investigated Padilla in an effort to confirm or refute such a connection. As of this writing, no conclusive evidence exists on either side of the debate. While some misconceptions about possible links have been disproven, there is a surprising amount of circumstantial support for the premise.
However, it should be stressed that no case for an Islamic extremist connection to Oklahoma City has yet met the "smoking gun" standard. Although some government and independent investigations of the case continue, as of this writing the case for a link is still unproven.
John Doe 2
John Doe No. 2 was suspected of being an accomplice who assisted Timothy McVeigh in assembling and possibly deploying the ammonium nitrate-nitromethane bomb that destroyed the Alfred E. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
There were several credible sightings of a man seen with McVeigh in Kansas in the days preceding the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as a large number of largely inconsistent reports concerning the day of the bombing.
John Doe 2, as described by various witnesses quoted in media reports and McVeigh defense team notes, was five-foot-nine to five-foot-ten, about 180 pounds, with a dark complexion, dark hair and a tattoo on his left arm. Witnesses who saw John Doe 2 in Kansas in the days preceding the bombing almost universally described the suspect as Hispanic. Although later media reports and speculation among conspiracy theorists cast the suspect as being of Middle Eastern descent, the original reports do not reflect that characterization. The vast majority of John Doe 2 sightings took place between April 14, 1995 and April 19, 1995.
The FBI distributed two composite sketches of John Doe 2, as well as a sketch later determined to be Timothy McVeigh and another later determined to be Terry Nichols.
Jose Padilla, an ethnic Puerto Rican, is five-foot-10 and weighed 170 pounds at the time of his arrest in 1991, according to Florida criminal records. A mid-1990s driver's license photo and a 1991 mug shot of Padilla closely resemble the composite sketch. Padilla was a chronic traffic offender with frequent citations for driving violations. Florida state DMV records obtained by INTELWIRE indicate that Padilla had no documented violations in the state from January 1995 through June 1995.
After an extensive manhunt, the FBI declared there had never been a John Doe 2, and said the hunt had been based on a mistaken identification by the owner of the store where Timothy McVeigh rented the Ryder truck used in the attack.
However, there is substantial reason for even a "conspiracy skeptic" to question the FBI's conclusions in the case, as reflected in several mainstream news media reports and the public results of the FBI's internal investigations into the handling of the OKCBOMB investigation:
Testimony relating to John Doe 2 came from several individuals in the same time frame, most of whom were unconnected to the truck rental store.
Several investigative stories by Associated Press reporter John Solomon in 2002 have cast significant doubt on the FBI's handling of OKCBOMB and the agency's conclusions that McVeigh acted alone. At least two internal FBI investigations of the OKCBOMB investigation have uncovered substantial irregularities, in the areas of forensics and document production.
Close Encounter: McVeigh, Hassoun and Padilla in Florida
Timothy McVeigh quit his job at the end of 1992 and traveled to Plantation, FL, in early 1993, where he attended gun shows while visiting with his sister.
During the same period, Jose Padilla first began reaching out to make contacts in the local Islamic community, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Around the same time, Padilla met a representative of the Benevolence International Foundation, which had an office in Plantation, FL, about five minutes away from Padilla's workplace and about 20 minutes from the home where McVeigh was living, according to evidence and testimony presented in several criminal cases.
According to the New York Times and a 2002 FBI affidavit, al Qaeda was actively recruiting American citizens during this period. The Times quoted Padilla's manager at the Taco Bell during this period as saying that terrorist recruiters were known to be circulating in the community.
The founder of the Benevolence office was Adham Hassoun, a local Palestinian activist. According to a indictment unsealed in January 2004, Hassoun illegally possessed a firearm. The alleged date and place of purchase was not immediately known. McVeigh sold at gun shows on at least two separate occasions in early 1993, according to trial testimony.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, in a separate proceeding "Immigration Judge Neale Foster found Hassoun participated in an assassination plot, recruited a "jihad fighter," donated money to charities under investigation for possible links to terrorism and belonged to an international terrorist organization called Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, according to Hassoun's petition for release to a federal district judge. That petition was denied."
Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, also known as the Islamic Group, is tied to a New York City al Qaeda cell whose spiritual leader was Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. One member of that cell, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, recruited U.S. military veterans for al Qaeda, as reported in an INTELWIRE exclusive investigative report. The al Qaeda recruitment plot corresponds closely to the movements of McVeigh and Terry Nichols in key time frames.
During the planning and execution of the OKCBOMB plot, McVeigh and Terry Nichols both traveled in and around Chicago, where the Benevolence International Foundation was based in from mid-1993 on. Padilla had a son in Chicago, where he had been raised. Nichols traveled through Illinois on the way to a gun show just days before the first sightings of John Doe 2, according to testimony and evidence at his and McVeigh's trial.
No Relation to Nichols Ex-Wife
One misconception fueling the initial interest in Padilla as a candidate for John Doe 2 was his surname. Terry Nichols, McVeigh's accomplice in the OKC plot, had an ex-wife named Lana Padilla, a resident of Las Vegas, NV. Nichols and Padilla had an amicable relationship and shared a son, Josh.
Interviewed in 2002, Lana Padilla said she was not aware of any relation to Jose Padilla. Lana Padilla's surname came from a former marriage. There is no evidence to suggest that Leonard Padilla, Lana's ex-husband, is related to Jose Padilla in any way. Lana Padilla continues to aver that she believes there was a John Doe 2 (an argument which supports the legal position of her ex-husband, currently facing a potential death sentence in an Oklahoma trial).
INTELWIRE Backgrounder on Jose Padilla. Al Qaeda Recruited U.S. Servicemen: Testimony Links Plot To Saudi Gov't Movements of McVeigh, Nichols Correspond to al Qaeda's Recruitment of Gulf Vets.
Documentation: If you are a journalist working on a project related to any aspect of this story, you can obtain full documentation of every fact reported here. E-mail for specifics. Documentation includes government records, court transcripts and mainstream media reports. E-mail for references.
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