FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
OREGON RESIDENT MAHER HAWASH PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY
TO SUPPLY SERVICES TO THE TALIBAN IN ‘PORTLAND CELL’ CASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, Acting Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Michael W. Mosman of the District of Oregon, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Laurie J. Bennett of the Portland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced today that Maher Mofeid Hawash has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban.
Hawash, a/k/a Mike Hawash, 38, of Hillsboro, Oregon, entered his guilty plea this morning before U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones, at federal court in Portland.
In a plea agreement filed with the Court, Hawash admitted that he and five other members of the conspiracy agreed to go to Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in fighting against the armed forces of the United States. Hawash stated that the group was prepared to take up arms and die as martyrs if necessary to defend the Taliban government. Hawash admitted that he took defendants Patrice Ford, Ahmed Bilal and Muhammad Bilal to the airport when they left the country, and that he gave the Bilals some money provided by another individual before they left. Hawash left Portland on Oct. 24, 2001, and flew to Hong Kong, where he joined defendants Jeffrey Battle, Patrice Ford, Ahmed Bilal, Muhammad Bilal, and Habis Al Saoub and entered China. Hawash further admitted that he traveled with the other defendants to Urumqi and Kashgar in the Xinjaing Province in western China, and to Beijing, in an attempt to enter Pakistan so they could get into Afghanistan and fight against the armed forces of the United States. Hawash returned to the United States in November 2001 after their numerous attempts to enter Afghanistan proved unsuccessful.
As part of his plea agreement, Hawash also agreed to cooperate fully with the government and testify if necessary at the trial of the remaining defendants in the “Portland cell” case, which is presently set for Jan. 5, 2004.
Hawash can receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for this offense. According to the plea agreement, it is expected that Hawash will receive a sentence from seven to 10 years in prison. The ultimate sentence will be up to the Court. The Court said sentencing would occur next year, after the trial of the remaining defendants.
The investigation of this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland, Oregon.