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Six Indicted in Oregon for Al-Qaeda Links


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6 indicted in Ore. for al-Qaida links

Three men and a woman held; two others remain at large


WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 — Five men and a woman — all but one of them U.S. citizens — have been indicted in Portland, Ore., on charges they conspired to wage war on the United States and provide support to the al Qaida terror network, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Friday.

Oct. 4 — Attorney General John Ashcroft announces the indictment of five men and a woman in Portland, Ore. on charges that they sought to aid al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“WE NEUTRALIZED A suspected terrorist cell within our borders,” Ashcroft said in accouncing the indictment by a federal grand jury in Portland.

The FBI’s counter-terrorism unit in Portland arrested two men and a woman Friday morning in the Portland area, Ashcroft said. A federal law enforcement official told NBC News that another man was arrested at 9:45 a.m. ET in Dearborn, Mich. The man lives in the Portland area but was visiting Dearborn. The FBI arrested him without incident.

The other two suspects are at large overseas, Ashcroft said.

All of them are accused of signing up to fight against the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks, the officials said. Court records unsealed Friday said the six men traveled to Afghanistan for training.

The charges include:

Conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

Conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida.

Conspiracy to contribute services to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Possessing firearms in the furtherance of crimes of violence.

If convicted, the defendants could face up to life in prison, Ashcroft said.

Court papers identified the six suspects as Jeffrey Leon Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, Habis Abdullah al Saoub and October Martinique Lewis, the lone woman among the six. Battle was a former U.S. soldier, Ashcroft said.

FBI agent Charles Matthews identified al Saoub and Ahmed Bilal as the suspects who remain at large.

The indictment said the six engaged in weapons training at a gravel pit in Washougal, Wash., starting in late September 2001, to prepare to fight with Taliban forces.

Five of the suspects eventually traveled to Afghanistan while the sixth remained behind and wired money to support them, Matthews said.

Battle obtained an administrative discharge from the U.S. Army Reserve in January 2002, according to court documents. The indictment said Battle had enlisted to receive training in U.S. tactics and weapons, which Battle ultimately intended to use against U.S. soldiers.

In Portland, police tape surrounded the Westport Square Apartments early Friday, and people nearby reported seeing substantial police activity. Westport Square, a large complex, is one block from the Rizwan Mosque, the Portland Oregonian newspaper reported on its Web site. The president of the mosque, Mizra Luqman, said he was not aware of any arrests of members of his mosque, the Oregonian said.

The charges against the men include material support to a terrorist organization — the same charge faced by a group of men in the Buffalo, N.Y., area.

The Portland counter-terrorism task force on Sept. 9 arrested Sheik Mohamed Abdirahman Kariye, a religious leader at the Islamic Center in Portland, and charged him with Social Security fraud. He remains in jail with a trial date set for Nov. 5.

Authorities also have alleged that another Pacific Northwest resident has ties to al-Qaida.

James Ujaama, a Muslim activist from Seattle, was arrested in July and has remained in custody as a “material witness” in the terror investigation.

Federal official have said that investigators believe Ujaama may have supplied terrorists in Afghanistan with computer equipment and attended a terror training camp while he was there. They also say he may have been part of an effort to set up a terrorist training camp in eastern Oregon.

Ujaama is being detained under the name “Ahmed Bilal,” which federal officials have said was an alias he sometimes used. It was not immediately clear if authorities believe he was connected to the indictments in Oregon.

Family members have told reporters that Ujaama never used the name under which he’s jailed.

MSNBC.com’s Mike Brunker and Mark Stevenson; NBC News’ Pete Williams and Jim Popkin; The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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