Most of the information that led to Padilla's arrest came from captured al Qaeda operational chief Abu Zubaydah, officials said. Zubaydah, the highest-ranking terrorist leader taken into U.S. custody since Sept. 11, was captured and wounded in a raid in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in late March.
One U.S. law enforcement official said the information Zubaydah is supplying during interrogations is not always accurate and investigators are treating his comments with increasing skepticism.
For months, Padilla worked out of Lahore, Pakistan, and twice met with senior al Qaeda operatives in Karachi in March, government officials have contended. Padilla and the others are alleged to have discussed a radiological weapon plot, as well as proposals to bomb gas stations and hotel rooms.
Investigators have since decided Padilla may have attended the meetings more as an observer than a participant, one U.S. official said.
Still, other officials suggest Padilla was important to the government's terrorism investigations. A senior law enforcement official said he may have been a scout, chosen for his ability to move around the United States legally with a driver's license and passport.
There are no plans to bring Padilla before a military tribunal and U.S. officials have argued he can be held until the government declares an end to the war on terrorism.
— The Associated Press
How Will Schools Handle Sept. 11?
N E W Y O R K, Aug. 14 — With crayon drawings and building block toys, children in the New York area are still resurrecting the World Trade Center. Then they ignite the drawings in scribbled orange flames, and topple the blocks with their small fists.
Nearly a year after the nightmare of Sept. 11, children are still struggling to understand what they went through that morning.
Many parents are expected to keep their children home this Sept. 11, but the 1.1 million-pupil school system will be open and administrators are struggling to mark the day without triggering terrible memories.
So far, simple, brief and unforced are the themes.
"What we have learned and seen over the past year is that the impact is deep and how children respond is often unpredictable," Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said.
He said some schools may plan individual programs, but all will acknowledge the anniversary by observing the citywide moment of silence planned just before 10:30 a.m., the time the second tower collapsed.
At that moment last year, Monica Watt's daughter was gripping the hand of her second-grade teacher as they fled Public School 89, three blocks from the stricken trade center. Some students watched the first tower collapse.
Watt and other parents of children affected by the disaster say they agree with the idea of a brief observance at the start of the day.
"I think a lot of parents are not going to send their children to school that day, but if they go, I don't think ignoring it is better," Watt said. "I'm just concerned that it'll go on through the whole month and they're never going to be able to get away from it."
School officials said they never seriously considered canceling classes this Sept. 11 in keeping with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's position that public offices remain open. "We will carry on our responsibilities to our families and to our city," the mayor said.
Debbie Leach, whose 8-year-old daughter, Michal, attends P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, said schools need to maintain a normal atmosphere.