According to a new batch of documents released by WikiLeaks, the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks met with a Chicago gang leader to discuss potential terrorist attacks against targets within the city.
In Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's secret file (PDF) from the Guantanamo Bay prison, the government describes a meeting between him and Jose Padilla, a one-time member of the Maniac Latin Disciples gang in Chicago:
Natural gas explosion in Chicago: In early 2002, Abu Zubaydah sent Binyam Ahmed Mohammed, ISN US9ET-001458DP (ET-1458) , and operative Jose Padilla (in US custody) to detainee to discuss future operations in the US. Detainee directed Padilla to travel to Chicago, Illinois, rent an apartment, and initiate a natural gas explosion to cause the building to collapse. Detainee told ET-1458 to join Padilla in Chicago on this mission. Detainee also directed Padilla to study the feasibility of an operation to set fire to a hotel or gas station in the US.
Shortly after this meeting, Padilla, who also used the name Abdullah al-Muhajir after his conversion to Islam, was arrested at O'Hare Airport carrying cash and contact information for al-Qaeda operatives. According to news reports at the time, officials believed he was planning a "dirty bomb" attack against targets within the United States.
Padilla would then become the center of a years-long debate about the status of "unlawful enemy combatants," as he was detained for three and a half years in military prisons before being charged with much lesser crimes than initially alleged. He is currently serving a 17-year sentence at a Supermax facility in Colorado.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammad is now awaiting trial in a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal, after Congress imposed limits on the government's ability to move Mohammad to the United States. Attorney General Eric Holder had hoped to try him in Manhattan or another venue in the United States.