One More Charged in Oregon Terrorism Investigation
April 28, 2003
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials on Monday charged an Arab-American who had been detained since March with conspiracy to help a suspected cell of people accused of helping al Qaeda and Taliban forces.
Maher Mofeid Hawash, 39, of Hillsboro, Oregon, was charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to levy war against the United States, conspiracy to provide material support to al Qaeda and conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Hawash, a software contractor, had been held since March 20, sparking an outcry from supporters who protested the high level of secrecy of the legal proceedings against him.
The Justice Department said in a statement that Hawash was believed to be involved in the same activities as the "Portland Six" -- a group indicted in the fall of 2002 and accused by Attorney General John Ashcroft of being part of a "suspected terrorist cell."
Hawash was charged with the same violations as Jeffrey Leon Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, Ahmed Abrahim Bilal, Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, Habis Abdullah Al Saoub and October Martinique Lewis. All six previously charged defendants had lived in Portland, Oregon.
Five of the six are in custody and al Saoub is still at large and believed to be outside the United States.
The complaint said U.S. officials identified Hawash based upon evidence seized at the time of the other arrests and from evidence gained through follow-up investigations.
According to the criminal complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, Hawash decided after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States to travel to Afghanistan to join forces with Taliban and al Qaeda troops fighting there. The United States blamed Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda for masterminding the attacks that killed more than 3,000 and launched the attack in Afghanistan to uproot the Taliban.
Hawash is accused of traveling with the other defendants to China in an attempt to enter Afghanistan and fight against U.S. forces. Hawash returned to the United States in November 2001 after failing to enter Afghanistan.
The complaint says Hawash claimed his travel to China was related to his personal software business.