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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General John Ashcroft, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut of the District of Oregon, and FBI Director Robert Mueller announced today that U.S. citizens Jeffrey Battle and Patrice Lumumba Ford, two defendants in the "Portland Cell" terrorism case, have pleaded guilty to charges of seditious conspiracy.

At a hearing at U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, this morning, Battle and Ford entered their guilty pleas to the first count of a 15-count indictment, a charge of conspiracy to levy war against the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 2384. Both defendants admit that the purpose of the conspiracy was to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban against American and allied forces. The crime to which they pleaded guilty, commonly known as "seditious conspiracy," was most recently used against Sheik Abdel Rahman and his adherents in their 1990s plot to destroy various New York City landmarks in an attempt to wage urban terrorism.

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 24, 2003. The remaining charges against Battle and Ford will be dismissed.

"The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that the lives and liberties of American citizens are protected from terrorist plots," stated Attorney General John Ashcroft. "As the Portland case demonstrates, we do not overlook threats when made by United States citizens. The outstanding work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Criminal Division, the FBI, and our partners in state and local law enforcement demonstrates our resolve in eradicating terrorist threats, whether at home or abroad, from foreign nationals or U.S. citizens."

"The Portland case exemplifies the strong working relationship the FBI has developed with state and local law enforcement, and the improved information sharing ability among the FBI, state and local and the intelligence communities," stated FBI Director Robert Mueller. "We commend our partners in the local law enforcement and intelligence communities for their continued commitment to the war on terrorism."

The plea agreements state that during the summer of 2001, Battle, Ford and others conducted martial arts training in order to prepare themselves to fight a violent jihad in Afghanistan or in another location in the future. Battle and Ford admit that following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by al Qaeda, they met at various times in the Portland area with others to plan for travel to fight in Afghanistan against the armed forces of the United States. Ford also admits that after the September 11th attacks on the United States, he purchased a shotgun and then conducted weapons training on two occasions at a gravel pit in Washougal, Washington, with other co-defendants.

The defendants admit that in October 2001, they and other co-defendants went to the Portland airport and flew to Hong Kong. The group decided that the best way to get to Afghanistan to fight American forces was to go through China, into Pakistan, and then to Afghanistan. The plea agreements state that Ford, Battle, Maher Hawash, Ahmed and Muhammad Bilal, and Habis Al Saoub then entered mainland China, flew to Urumqui in Western China, and took a train from Urumqi to Kashgar. The group then spent several days in Kashgar, unsuccessfully trying to gain entry into Pakistan through several different methods.

Battle and Ford are the last remaining defendants currently in custody to plead guilty to charges stemming from the Portland cell case. Last month, Battle’s ex-wife, October Martinique Lewis, pleaded guilty to money laundering charges for transferring or transmitting money from the United States to a place outside of the country, for the purpose of assisting Battle in willfully supplying services to the Taliban. Earlier in September, co-defendants Ahmed and Muhammad Bilal pleaded guilty to conspiracy to contribute services to the Taliban, as well as federal weapons charges. In August, defendant Maher "Mike" Hawash pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban.

The investigation of this matter was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland, Oregon.