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The feds have charged Mike with being a terrorist. Just broke and details are sketchy.
Does any one have anymore on this? What are the charges based on and what the hell are we going to do about it?
Here's a little information 28.Apr.2003 12:21


I'll try to post the article.

Mike Hawash charged with terrorism related crimes

April 28, 2003


PORTLAND - A Hillsboro man is the latest from our area to be charged with terrorism related crimes.

Mike Hawash, an independent contractor who had been working for Intel was charged this morning with conspiracy to wage war on the US and support terrorism.

Hawash has been detained for more than a month.

The charges against him are related to the so-called "Portland Six" terrorism case, in which several men from our area went to china in an attempt to enter Afghanistan and join with al Qaeda and the Taliban in their fight against US troops.

KATU News will have more details as soon as they are available.

surprise surprise! 28.Apr.2003 12:32


huh, funny they charged him right before there would be a big rally to support him and to question the Patriot Act? geee, i'm sure it was just a coincidence. well, guilty or not, that guy's life is completely fucked by now.

LOOKS 28.Apr.2003 12:50


he looks just like all of those other terrorist guys that are trying to get us!

KING OF ALL TROLLS 28.Apr.2003 12:55


is this guy mike king of trolls? our king hasn't posted since this dude got charged? is the rally tommorow a free the king thing? i'm jacked up about this!

Family man... 28.Apr.2003 13:11

Trilox Woodsman

Everyone keeps playing him off like he is some innocent family man. Well, an innocent family man wouldn't have left his family and travelled to Western China with the intent of slipping over the border into Afghanistan to kill American soldiers in a Jihad for Allah. A family man would have stayed at home with his family and his cushy job at Intel...

When's his execution? 28.Apr.2003 13:12

Fidel no es mi comandante

Is Hawash going to be executed tomorrow? Oops, my bad. This isn't Cuba, the socialist paradise for retarded Portland Indymedia members.

More info 28.Apr.2003 13:15


Hillsboro software engineer faces terror charges

Associated Press

Maher "Mike" Hawash, in federal custody as a material witness since March 20, was charged Monday with setting off for Afghanistan in October 2001 with the intention of helping al-Qaeda and Taliban forces fighting U.S. soldiers.

Hawash was part of a Portland-based group of six other suspects -- already charged -- who are accused of plotting to go to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting U.S. troops, the U.S. Department of Justice charged.

Maher "Mike" Hawash (KGW File Photo)
"In a nutshell, Hawash was charged as a co-conspirator with the other six," said U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones, who is handling the case that's come to be known as the "Portland Six."

The charges against Hawash were presented to Jones Monday in 41-page affidavit.

Hawash, 39, was charged with conspiracy to levy war and two counts of conspiring to provide material support for al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Hawash, an engineer who has worked for Intel, has been the center of controversy since he was seized by federal agents more than a month ago.

His friends and relatives have demanded to know why he was taken into custody.

Maher Hawash poses with his wife, Lisa, in this family photo. (Photo courtesy of freemikehawash.org)

According to a Justice Department press release, Hawash flew to Hong Kong on Oct. 24, 2001, where he joined up with five of the other defendants: Jeffrey Battle, Patrice Ford, Habis Abdullah Al Saoub, and the brothers Ahmed and Muhammad Bilal.

The complaint charges that Hawash traveled with the other defendants to Urumqi and Kashgar in the Xinjaing Province in western China, and to Beijing, with the intention of entering Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces.

The complaint states that Hawash and the other defendants stayed at the same hotels in China on at least three occasions.

Hawash returned to the United States in November 2001 after failing to enter Afghanistan, the complaint says.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Hawash has said the purpose of his trip to China was related to his personal software business.

Of the six other suspects, all are in custody except for Al Saoub, whose whereabouts are unknown.

The six -- who also include October Martinique Lewis, who is Battle's ex-wife -- were indicted last October. All of the suspects have lived in the Portland area. Their trial is scheduled to begin in October.

At the time of the arrests, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called it a "defining day" in the fight against terrorism.

The case built slowly beginning shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when Battle, Ford and several others were spotted wearing ethnic garb and shooting a shotgun, assault rifle and other firearms in a gravel pit in Skamania County, Wash.

That prompted round-the-clock surveillance by FBI teams, including some working with the secret warrants.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

This is America 28.Apr.2003 14:51


This is America. That means people are innocent until proven guilty. Judging by the majority of the cases of the so-called terrorist cells here in the US, these charges might not add up to much.

But whatever the case, there will be a trial. Like we don't have any innocent people in prison...

psy-op 28.Apr.2003 14:53


The whole thing seems highly implausible. I think this is just a psy-op conducted by the CIA and/or military intelligence, i.e. fake news designed to influence public opinion. In this case it's to reinforce the idea that Americans can be denied their constitutional rights if they are declared 'enemy combatants'. I think they've probably had some trouble getting this idea to gain any traction, because of the obvious tyranny involved.

Jokes About Mike 28.Apr.2003 15:11


Those that see humor in Mike's predicament obviously have never personally faced the consequences of the new "guilty until proven Innocent, pre-empitive mindset" of this nation. When their times comes (and Bush will make sure it will at some point), let's see how funny they find their own situation. Such childishness is really sad on a day like today.

It sounds like 28.Apr.2003 15:14


It sounds like innocent until proven guilty means innocent until proven guilty.

The Hangman 28.Apr.2003 16:04

Maurice Ogden

Into our town the Hangman came
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
And he paced our bricks with a diffident air
And he built his frame on the courthouse square.

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide,
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door.

And we wondered, whenever we had the time,
Who the criminal, what the crime,
The Hangman judged with the yellow twist
Of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead;
Till one cried, "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raised the gallows-tree?"

And a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply;
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope of the gallows-tree."

And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another's grief,
At the Hangman's hand was our relief.

And the gallows frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke,
Out of respect for his hangman's cloak.

The next day's sun looked down
On the roof and street in our quiet town
And, stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and businesslike.

And we cried: "Hangman, have you not done,
Yesterday with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed;
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised..."

He laughed as he looked at us;
"...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That's a thing I do
To stretch the rope when the rope is new."

Then one cried "Murderer!" One cried "Shame!"
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,
"With him that was meat for the gallows tree?"

And he laid hid hand on that one's arm,
And we shrank back in quick alarm
And we gave him way, and no one spoke,
Out of fear of his hangman's cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute
The gallows-tree had taken root.

Now as wide or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door
, As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up the courthouse wall.

The third he took - - we had all heard tell - -
Was a usurer and infidel,
And: "What," said the Hangman, "have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"

And we cried out: "Is this the one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme
To try the strength of the gallows-beam."

The fourth man's dark, accusing song
Had scratched our comfort hard and long;
And: "What concern", he gave us back,
"Have you for the doomed - - the doomed and Black?"

The fifth. the sixth. And we cried again:
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the man?"
"It's a trick," he said, "that we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap swings slow."

And so we ceased and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score;
And by sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold
Till they covered the square from side to side;
And the monster cross-beam, looking down,
Cast it's shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came
And he called in the empty streets MY NAME - -
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought: "There is no one left at all,

For hanging, and so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree."
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town,
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the hempen strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap - -
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me Hangman!" I shouted then,
"That your scaffold was built for other men . . .
And I no henchman of yours", I cried.
"You lied to me, Hangman, foully lied!"

Then a twinkle grew in his buckshot eye:
"Lied to you?" "Tricked you?" he said, "Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true:
The scaffold was raised for none but you."

"For who has served more faithfully
Than you with your cowards hope?" said he,
"And where are the others who might have stood
Side by side in the common good?"

"Dead," I whispered: and amiably
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
"First the alien, then the Jew . . .
I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky,
None stood so alone as I - -
And the Hangman strapped me and no voice there
Cried "STAY!" for me in the empty square.

what did he do? 28.Apr.2003 16:19


i don't know anything about the case except it does say he never entered afghanistan. so what is he guilty of exactely? i wonder what constitutes conspiracy?

Conspiracy 28.Apr.2003 16:39


A conspiracy occurs when two or more individuals plan to commit a crime and take a step or participate in an overt act to commit the crime. It is not necessary that the crime is actually committed, only that there was an ernest effort to commit it. Not a law scool definition, but accurate none-theless.

institutional racism alive and well 28.Apr.2003 19:23


It doesn't seem like Mike would put his life on the line for the cause of the Taliban??

This doesn't make sense. If he was that hard core, he would never have started a family or built his life in America.

His only crime is being born Arab. Arabs and all people of middle-eastern and african nations are under intense stress and pressure to be "good" not feeling like they can express their opinions without puttin themselves in danger. Most people from oppressed countries, have learned to keep their political views to themselves. I'm sadned that they feel tht way in this "free" country.

Killed the indians
Killed the africans
killed mexicans
killed cubans
killed japanese
killed vietnamese
killed koreans
killing the poor
killed afghanis
killed iraqis
killed our own fighters
killing our schools
killing our children
killing our souls
killing our earth

There is a better way.

This is very troubling ... 28.Apr.2003 21:08


I'll admit right up front that, politcally I'm what you folks call a Troll. I think of myself as a moderate liberal who believes more in common sense than any other commodity. But, one never thinks poorly of oneself, right? And, I'll freely admit there are other perspectives that might not view my politics as benignly as I do myself.

That said, by way of laying a little groundwork, I have real trouble with what I've seen of this Mike Hawash situation. I don't claim to be in on all the information, but I have looked at reports from various sources, both yours and the corporate media (I have less trouble with them than some folks do).

There are two things I've read that I find disquieting.

1) Apparently there was some concern over charitable donations made by Mike and his wife to groups that are now viewed as Al-Quaida fund raisers. I neither know, nor care whether they are 'bad'. What bothers me is a quote from Mike's wife in which she says they didn't know there was anything wrong with the groups. They gave in good faith to charities that they thought were doing good work.

Hell, my wife and I have done the same thing. Different charities, but we gave in good faith and to a large extent assumed good faith on the part of the charities. On some level, you tend to trust people when ask for donations to do good stuff. How is the average person to know if the charity to which they donate is a front for terrorists?

Assume for the moment that such things do exist and behave exactly as Dubya would have us believe ... how am I supposed to know they're fake? Wouldn't the essense of a good ripoff operation be it's believability. I believe this to be so and I believe any number of folks might be gulled by such an organization.

Frankly, I'm inclined to believe that Mike and his wife did make donations to what they thought was a legitimate charity that claimed to be doing good work in the land of his birth. I don't believe that because I know Mike (I don't) and think he's a good guy ... it's because that is just the kind of behavior I'd indulge in.

2) Admittedly, a good mole will blend in and there are documented cases of this happening. Certainly it's a standard James Bond plot line. But, I just find it a little difficult to swallow that this guy came here, lived here for years, went to all the trouble of becoming a citizen and apparently lived as something of a model citizen, married, raised a family, and so on just as a cover. Call me a cynic, but I have real trouble with that idea ... in fact, lacking sound evidence to the contrary, I just don't believe it.

I'll say all that ... and I'm a troll. These charges just don't ring true to me. Perhaps time will prove me wrong, but for the moment I believe this poor guy is just a victim whose gotten caught in the gears.

RE: The Hangman 28.Apr.2003 21:13

Jack_Straw jack_straw@ziplip.com

That poem was amazing. I don't know if you wrote it or if you got it from elsewhere, but I have to say I was impressed. As far as the case of Mike goes, this is a sad, sad day for our country (one of many in the last couple of years unfortunately).

"Hangman" poem 28.Apr.2003 21:35


I'll confess ... I posted that poem.

It's not mine (I only wish I could craft something that used the language that well).

It's a real poem written by Maurice Ogden. We studied it in high school. It sounds great when read aloud to a sort of pounding rythm ... like you'd use for Robert Service or Rudyard Kipling.

I hadn't thought of it in 37 years. It just sprang to mind as I read about Mike Hawash.

Sort of fitting to these troubled times, isn't it?

Word 28.Apr.2003 21:46


So can we bring charges up against Colin Powell for giving the Taliban $24 million in Aug. before Sept.11?

Maybe bring charges up against all the people that helped fund Saddam.

Plus I know I'd get fired from my job if I was on vacation for a whole month of August and in Sept had one of the worse events in history happen. Who's being held accountable for that dumbass in the White House? Glad we have a President that's more concerned with sitting around drinking beer than doing his job.

Seriously people we need wake up and look around and stop blaming left/right. Look at your childrens education, your grandparents Health Care, republicans cutting Veteran's Benefits the same day the war started, looking at social security, and etc. Then look as Enron, Worldcom, and the corporate fraud robbing you blind.

I get pissed when I hear about some CEO making millions and getting bonuses for laying off AMERICAN WORKING and moving the company in Mexico or ???? HOW IS THAT AMERICAN? HOW IS THE PATRIOTIC?

You're not a troll 28.Apr.2003 22:00


"me" you're not a troll. A troll is someone who posts with the intention of disrupting and deflecting from the issues. Your viewpoint and politics don't make you a troll. Your intention and behavior determine whether or not you are a troll.

Judging from your post, you are a model indymedia poster, for you discussed the issue in this thread in a rational, civilized manner.

New photo 28.Apr.2003 23:07


Anyone else bothered that now all the media outlets have changed their default photo of him from the clean-cut smiling one to a spookier beared one? Not like I would have expected anything else from them though.

New Photo 29.Apr.2003 01:01


I think he looks great in the new photo... happy and kind.

Look at his eyes. Look at his smile.

NEW LOOK? 29.Apr.2003 04:59

TROLL With sight

Is this really a new look? Seems like the old look after the heat was on and he started to freak out because most terrorists don't use prudent thinking. Please wake up and don't support terrorism. This guy is worse than a carlot full of SUV'S!

Today's (4/29) Story on Mike in WS Journal 29.Apr.2003 10:45


Wall Street Journal

American Mystery -- Immigrant's Path: From Tech Success To Terror Charges --- Mike Hawash Worked at Intel; The U.S. Says He Wanted To Join the Taliban --- An Unusual Trip to China

By Scot J. Paltrow

29 April 2003

PORTLAND, Ore. -- As Maher "Mike" Hawash arrived for work at the Intel Corp. facility in Hillsboro, Ore., on March 20, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, with guns drawn, surrounded him in the parking lot, bundled him into a car, and whisked him off. That morning agents armed with assault rifles and wearing flak jackets also raided his house, scaring his wife and young children and carrying off financial and computer records.

Mr. Hawash's incarceration in a federal prison as a material witness in a terrorism case prompted six weeks of protests by an increasingly angry group of current and former Intel employees, as well as friends and neighbors of Mr. Hawash. They saw their friend and colleague, who was born Palestinian and Muslim, as a loyal naturalized American citizen. He came to the U.S. when he was 20, became a citizen in 1990, married an American Christian woman and had three children, to whom he was devoted. He was held with no charges and no explanation from the government.

Yesterday federal prosecutors spelled out their charges. In a criminal complaint, they charged Mr. Hawash, 39 years old, with conspiracy to wage war against the U.S, and conspiracy to provide support to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Mr. Hawash was accused of traveling to China, along with several other Portland-area residents who were previously charged, with the intention of going to Afghanistan to fight against U.S. forces after Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Hawash's prosecution is shaping up as one of the biggest mysteries of the government's terrorism cases in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The case shows how difficult it is in terror cases to separate suspicious behavior from truly nefarious activity.

Of the more than 40 individuals held as material witnesses, and more than 200 others being prosecuted on terrorism charges, no other individual has galvanized the outpouring of support in the U.S. that he has. Earlier this month, about 150 of his friends, former colleagues and neighbors held a protest in front of the U.S. District Court in Portland. Yesterday, shortly before the charges were announced, some of his supporters rallied near the federal court in Seattle.

Unlike many of the other defendants and material witnesses, held in custody to ensure they don't flee, Mr. Hawash had fully integrated himself into the mainstream community where he lived. In many respects he had attained the American dream. He owned his own home and was respected at microchip-maker Intel, one of the U.S.'s preeminent high-tech giants. He was exceptionally popular and known in the community for his volunteer activities.

But if the federal government's accusations are true, Mr. Hawash had another, hidden side, one that led him to travel with five other Muslims from the Portland area to the province of Xinjiang in Western China and to make an unsuccessful attempt to enter Afghanistan in October 2001.

Many of Mr. Hawash's supporters didn't know that he traveled to China in 2001. They don't deny that he paid off his mortgage and put his house in his wife's name before he left. The question is: Why?

Steve McGeady, a former Intel executive who was once Mr. Hawash's boss and heads the support group, insists that "the evidence is weak and amounts to guilt by association." He calls the charges "baseless."

Leora Gregory, an Intel executive who helps oversee a plant in China, and a friend of Mr. Hawash, says she finds it impossible to believe that he had planned to join the Taliban. "It's so hard to believe that he would wage war against the country that housed him as a citizen and housed his family," she says. "It's not the guy I know. It just doesn't add up."

Mr. Hawash started working for Intel in 1992 as a software engineer on cutting-edge digital video software. With an Intel colleague, he co-wrote a book on advanced video graphics. When his father, a carpenter in Nablus, on the West Bank, became ill, Intel made special arrangements for him to work in 1994 at an Intel facility in Israel, according to a former Intel supervisor. His close friends say that after he returned to Portland about two years later he continued to have Jewish Israeli friends. Intel eliminated Mr. Hawash's division in 2001 and he lost his job. But the company took him back as a contract employee. An Intel spokesman said that the company is aware of the charges against Mr. Hawash and that it has no comment.

Far from being a hothead on politics, Mr. Hawash's friends say, he was unusually pacific, even-keeled, and sought to calm others upset by world events. He was known for building and donating furniture for school auctions, volunteering as a youth soccer coach, and donating his time to turn a garage into a learning center for children at a local, secular community center.

Ms. Gregory describes Mr. Hawash as "magnetic" and "fun." In an interview before the charges were filed yesterday, she said she would be surprised if he had been involved in anything violent, because "he often said `why do people have to fight'. Instead he always concentrated on trying to help people improve and do things that would improve, not be destructive."

As a measure of his popularity among Intel colleagues, she recalled a seemingly interminable round of going away parties for him before he left for Israel in 1994. At one, five Intel staffers had their hair cut to imitate Mr. Hawash's then-unusual short style.

The support group formed on his behalf launched a "Free Mike Hawash" Web site, alerted media around the world to his plight, raised thousands of dollars for his family and organized demonstrations.

Rohan Coelho, a close friend of Mr. Hawash's -- he introduced Mr. Hawash to his future wife and was best man at their wedding -- said before the charges were filed that he couldn't conceive of Mr. Hawash setting off to do anything violent or anti-American.

But to friends such as Mr. Coelho and Ms. Gregory, it appears that Mr. Hawash was deeply influenced by the recent death of his father, and in the aftermath underwent a religious reawakening.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Hawash allegedly went to China six weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks with a mostly down-on-its luck group of five fellow Muslims from Portland. Those individuals, and the wife of one who is accused only of wiring money to her husband in China, were charged in October 2002 with conspiring to make war against the U.S. by attempting to aid the Taliban and al Qaeda. They have all pleaded not guilty and denied the charges.

The charges stem from an alleged attempt to reach the Taliban to aid the ultra-orthodox Islamic regime in defending Afghanistan against the American military attack. They traveled from Portland to China, but quickly abandoned their plan because they couldn't reach Afghanistan. Evidence so far made public indicates that they never made contact with the Taliban, and most simply returned home to Portland.

Michael W. Mosman, the United States Attorney in Portland, declined to be interviewed about the Hawash or Portland Six cases.

Mr. Hawash is being held in the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Ore. His lawyer, Stephen A. Houze, declined to comment except to say that he planned to ask that Mr. Hawash be released on bail at his arraignment today.

Mr. Coelho, a former Intel software engineer, said in an interview before the charges were filed that some time around October 2001, Mr. Hawash left the U.S. for "a couple of weeks," telling friends and family that he was going to visit his mother and sister in Nablus. Mr. Coelho said that when Mr. Hawash returned, he said that he hadn't been allowed into the West Bank. He didn't want to talk much about his trip.

The trip followed a marked change in Mr. Hawash, after which he increasingly turned toward his ancestral religion. Until his father's death in early 2001, friends say, Mr. Hawash had routinely fasted during the holy month of Ramadan. But otherwise he seemed to pay little attention to religious observance. After his father died, Mr. Hawash stopped drinking alcohol, grew a beard, and made a pilgrimage to Mecca, according to his friends.

The transformation resulted in strains on his marriage. "As Mike became a lot more Muslim, the change was something Lisa had to struggle with," Mr. Coelho said, adding that she felt that he was no longer "the person she first married." It got so bad, Mr. Coelho said, that one night the couple fought and Mr. Hawash ended up sleeping in his car. Mrs. Hawash couldn't be reached.

Just before he left on the October 2001 trip, moreover, Mr. Hawash took several steps that suggest he thought he might not return. He paid off the mortgage on his house, for example, and transferred its title to his wife. But Mr. Coelho says Mr. Hawash said he paid off the mortgage simply because the Koran forbids Muslims to borrow money at interest. And he said Mr. Hawash transferred title to the house because he wanted to get his affairs in order in case he got stuck in the West Bank indefinitely, due to continuing violence and uncertainty about the border.

In an affidavit filed in court with the charges, the FBI said that Lisa Hawash had told them that her husband said he was going to China to look for business opportunities. But the FBI said that his telephone records showed no phone calls to China before he left.

Mr. Coelho and other friends say that Mr. Hawash, like other Palestinians, might have reasons to be angry with Israel and the support it has received from the U.S. When Mr. Hawash was a child, his family was exiled for a time by Israel to Kuwait, the friends say. In recent months an Israeli tank has been stationed in front of Mr. Hawash's mother's house, often firing shells over her roof at Palestinian targets.

Nevertheless, Mr. Coelho says he can't imagine Mr. Hawash engaging in violence. He says that as his friend became more religious, Mr. Coelho, a devout Catholic born in India, challenged him about whether Islam, with its requirement for jihad, or holy war, prescribed in the Koran, wasn't a violent religion. "He said actually `no'," Mr. Coelho recalls. "He said the religion is about peace and charity."

Ms. Gregory, the Intel executive, recalls that when Mr. Hawash returned from making the pilgrimage to Mecca, he complained bitterly about fellow Muslims who he said had pushed and shoved as the pilgrims approached the holy places, in contravention of what he said was supposed to be the religion's spirit of peace and cooperation. "He told me that there was a whole class of people who didn't seem to understand what it was all about," she says.

Friends also say they find it hard to believe that Mr. Hawash would have accompanied the individuals charged in the earlier indictment. While the Portland Muslim community is small, estimated at from 7,000 to 10,000 individuals, and closely knit, the five defendants who allegedly set off to fight for the Taliban were people with menial jobs who associated with few people outside of the Muslim community, and weren't the type Mr. Hawash normally spent time with. They included a nurse's aid, a bagel-maker and someone who sold cellphones and taught physical education part time at a local Muslim school.

But the FBI affidavit states that neighbors told FBI agents that they had seen several of the defendants in the Portland case at Mr. Hawash's house in the month or so before their alleged departure for China and that one of them had done yard work for the Hawash family.

As with the detention of Mr. Hawash, the case against the Portland Six also has drawn criticism from civil libertarians and others who feel that the government has been overly zealous. When the six were indicted in October, Attorney General John Ashcroft called the event "a defining day in America's war against terrorism," and said that "a suspected terrorist cell within our borders" had been "neutralized." Evidence that has emerged so far, however, appears to give little support to the contention that the group was a real terrorist cell. Despite months of intensive surveillance of the defendants by the FBI before their arrests, no allegation has been made that they were plotting any violent action after they returned home from China. Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said that the department views sleeper cells to be any group that "conspires to support terrorists," regardless of whether it was planning any violent action here.

The criminal complaint and lengthy affidavit in the Hawash case offer little actual evidence of what Mr. Hawash's intentions were. The sole exception is a partial transcript of a conversation recorded by a confidential FBI source with one of the other defendants in the case, Jeffrey Leon Battle. In it, Mr. Battle said a "Palestinian" who was "married to a white woman . . . left with us to go fight."