FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
THREE DEFENDANTS IN ‘PORTLAND CELL’ CASE SENTENCED FOR CONSPIRING TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE TALIBAN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray, and U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut of the District of Oregon today announced that three defendants in the “Portland Cell” case have been sentenced for conspiring to supply services to the Taliban.
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones in Portland, Oregon, sentenced Ahmed Bilal to a prison term of 10 years. Ahmed Bilal pleaded guilty in September 2003 to charges of conspiracy to provide services to the Taliban and conspiracy to possess and discharge firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Muhammad Bilal, another Portland Cell defendant who pleaded guilty to the same charges, was sentenced by Judge Jones today to eight years in prison.
Maher “Mike” Hawash was also sentenced by Judge Jones today to seven years in prison. Hawash entered a guilty plea in August 2003 to a charge of conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban. All three defendants sentenced today cooperated with the government’s ongoing criminal and terrorism investigations.
In addition to the prison sentences handed down today, the government has obtained forfeitures from the defendants under provisions contained in the USA Patriot Act. Items forfeited included a Volkswagen Passat, a shotgun and $2,100 in cash.
“Today’s sentences demonstrate the serious consequences of attempting to assist our terrorist enemies in a time of war,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “Thanks to the excellent cooperation of state and local law enforcement as well as the diligent work of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, we were able to put those who would harm American soldiers behind bars.”
The defendants sentenced today engaged in training to prepare themselves to fight a violent jihad in Afghanistan in the future. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the defendants plotted to travel to Afghanistan and engage in combat against the armed forces of the United States on behalf of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Six of the seven defendants traveled to Hong Kong and Western China in an unsuccessful attempt to enter Pakistan to get into Afghanistan.
The three other “Portland Cell” defendants in U.S. custody have already been sentenced for their roles in the plot. Jeffrey Battle and Patrice Lumumba Ford were sentenced by Judge Jones in November 2003 to 18 years in prison each for their guilty pleas to charges of seditious conspiracy. In December 2003, October Lewis, Battle’s ex-wife, was sentenced to three years in prison for her guilty plea to money laundering charges.
A seventh individual charged in the Portland Cell case, Habis Al Saoub, remains a fugitive.
The investigation of this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland, Oregon. The prosecution was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charles F. Gorder, Pamala Holsinger and David Atkinson, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.