Two "Portland Cell" Defendants Plead Guilty to Two Charges
War on Terrorism
On September 18, Muhammad Bilal and Ahmed Bilal pled guilty in a Portland, Oregon federal court to charges of conspiracy to provide services to the Taliban, and conspiracy to possess and discharge firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Following the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, they, with co-conspirators, planned travel from Portland to Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in fighting against the armed forces of the United States.
Both admit that during the summer of 2001, they and others trained in fighting and with firearms in rural areas of Oregon and Washington state to prepare for jihad in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Both flew to Hong Kong to make their way into Afghanistan, but were forced to turn back when they were unable to cross into Pakistan.
Their guilty pleas join that of Maher Mofeid Hawash, their co-conspirator, who pled guilty in August to conspiracy of knowingly and illegally supplying services "to the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban or to the Taliban" in violation of Executive Order 13129, which was issued by President Clinton on July 4, 1999.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Portland, Oregon, made up of members of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Oregon State Police, the Portland Police Bureau, the U.S. Postal Service, the Beaverton Police Department, the Port of Portland, the Vancouver Police Department, and the following agencies in the Department of Homeland Security: ICE (formerly INS), U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and Federal Protective Services.