The Portland Six JW Connection

by blondie 4 Replies latest social current

  • blondie

    Battle says she raised her son to be a Jehovahs Witness. But soon after seeing the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X, he became very obsessed with Islam.

    Suspected terror cell members Jeffrey Leon Battle and October Martinique Lewis were once married
    The Portland Six
    Joining jihad: They had guns, and plans for Afghanistan. Busting a would-be cell
    By Andrew Murr and Kevin Peraino
    Oct. 14 issue At 6 a.m. Friday, Jeffrey Leon Battle and October Martinique Lewis were asleep in their Portland, Ore., apartment when the team of federal agents, dressed in combat gear, crept up to the front door. For months, the FBI had been secretly tracking the couples every move, phone call and e-mail, accumulating evidence to prove the two Americans, both converts to Islam, were members of a cell of Osama bin Ladens followers who planned to join Al Qaeda. Convinced they had enough to make their case, the Feds moved in.

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    QUIETLY, THE AGENTS PREPARED to make what they call a keyed entry. The key: a battering ram. Crashing through the door, the Feds rushed to the bedroom, where they handcuffed the couple, who had jolted awake but were still in bed. At about the same moment across town, Patrice Lumumba Ford, another suspected member of the group, stepped out of his apartment to discover eight federal agents with guns ordering him to the ground. That same morning, agents in Detroit arrested Muhammad Bilal, yet another alleged member. Two other alleged conspirators remain free.
    It has become a familiar ritual in recent monthsthe explosive arrest in a quiet town (Lackawanna, Portland), followed by a high-profile news conference. Weve neutralized a suspected terrorist cell within our borders, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday. He praised the arrests, along with the court appearances of John Walker Lindh and shoe-bomber Richard Reid, as a defining day in the war on terror. If convicted, the Portland Sixcharged with conspiring to provide material support to Al Qaeda and tak[e] up arms against the United Statescould be sentenced to life in prison. (Ford pleaded not guilty on Friday; the others are in custody awaiting arraignment.)
    Yet the boldness of the attorney generals announcement seemed somewhat at odds with the dry facts presented in the indictment. On paper, the governments case seems to point more to a group of failed terrorist wanna-bes than trained Qaeda killers. Unlike the governments case against the Buffalo Six, who allegedly attended Qaeda camps, none of the Portland suspects even made it to Afghanistanthough they allegedly tried. This could make it difficult to prove that they provided support to terrorists, especially since the Feds have presented no evidence yet that the Portland suspects had any contact with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. But investigators point out a key difference between the Portland group and their Buffalo brethren: the Buffalo suspects allegedly traveled to Afghanistan months before September 11. The Portland Six, they say, turned to bin Laden after he murdered 3,000 Americans. They had guns, and allegedly intended to wage jihad.
    Federal investigators are still trying to figure out exactly how the various members of the Portland group came togetherand when and why they allegedly decided to turn against their country. All seemed to share an obsession with radical Islam. Battle, 32, was raised in Houston, where he played high-school football and studied to be a hairdresser. Battles mother, Deanna Douglas, told NEWSWEEK that, as a child, her son was a jovial, really lovable prankster. Clockwise from top left: Jeffrey Leon Battle, Patrice Lumumba Ford, October Martinique Lewis, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub, and Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal
    Battle says she raised her son to be a Jehovahs Witness. But soon after seeing the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X, he became very obsessed with Islam. Battle and his girlfriend October, now 26, converted and began wearing traditional Muslim dress. The two moved to Portland, married and worked for a time at a nursing home. The couple eventually divorced but, oddly, still lived together. Odder still, in 1999 Battle suddenly announced he was joining the U.S. Army Reserves, telling his mother he wanted to get medical training to become a doctor. But a few months after September 11 he was discharged. Last week Ashcroft charged that Battle joined the military only to learn how to fight against Americans. Neighbors recall that last winter, Battles 6-year-old son argued with other children about the terror attacks. He told me, Im trying to tell them that 9-11 is a good thing, Janette Dean, the mother of one child, told NEWSWEEK.
    The motives of the other Portland suspects are sketchier still. Ford, 31, grew up in Portland, the son of a former local Black Panther leader. Ford studied international relations at Portland State University and later at Johns Hopkins, and briefly worked as an intern for Mayor Vera Katz. In 2000 he took a job teaching phys ed at a private Islamic school and at some point hooked up with the other Portland suspects, including 24-year-old Bilal. Authorities are still looking for Bilals 22-year-old brother, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, and Habis Abdulla Al Saoub, a Jordanian national implicated in the alleged plot. After Fords arrest, uneasy neighbors dubbed their apartment complex La Vista Tora Bora.
    The Feds were first tipped off to the group by a local police officer. On Sept. 29, 2001, Skamania County Deputy Mark Mercer says he came upon Battle, Ford and several other men at a gravel pit in rural Washington, where they were firing rifles and semiautomatic pistols at paper targets. Plenty of locals used the place for shooting practice, but seldom in flowing robes and turbans. Curious, Mercer asked the men for ID, then sent them on their way.
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    9/11: One Year Later
    That might have been the end of it. But a couple of weeks later, police arrested a Lebanese-born ex-con named Ali Khaled Steitiye when he tried to illegally purchase an assault rifle at a local gun shop. Mercer recognized the man from the gravel pit. He called the Feds, who began an intensive investigation.
    By that time, Battle, Ford and the others had purchased one-way plane tickets to Hong Kongthe first leg of their journey to the Qaeda camps, prosecutors say. According to the indictment, Battle sent Lewis an e-mail saying they were having trouble getting into Afghanistan. Battle made it to Bangladesh; Ahmed Bilal reached Indonesia. Then they ran out of money. Back in the States, Lewis sent $2,130 in wire transfers to Battle. Eventually, Battle, Ford and Muhammad Bilal gave up and came home.
    In the 10 months that followed, the Feds kept close watch on the groupbut apparently turned up little further evidence of a plot. Yet law-enforcement officials insist the investigation isnt anywhere near finished, and that there may be more evidence forthcomingin Portland, and beyond.

    With Anne Belli Gesalman, Mark Hosenball and Sarah Downey

    2002 Newsweek, Inc.
  • SixofNine

    We are not safe as a nation as long as Denzel Washington is alive.

    AGuest, all your training has been for this moment. It is time. Start "the plan".

    Edited by - SixofNine on 6 October 2002 9:42:22

  • Tanalyst

    The blame can be placed back to when "he played high school football".

  • Kenneson

    Now there's a switch. From the frying pan (Jws) into the fire (Islam).

  • blondie

    New York Daily News -
    'X' marks 2nd man a convert
    Monday, October 7th, 2002

    A second U.S.-born radical Muslim arrested in the war against terror was inspired to convert by Spike Lee's 1992 "Malcolm X" movie, it was reported yesterday.

    The alleged member of the Portland Six terror cell was raised as a Jehovah's Witness but became "very obsessed" with Islam after seeing the movie, his mother told Newsweek.

    Jeffrey Leon Battle, a 32-year-old former Army reservist, was arrested last week in Portland, Ore., along with three of the five others whom the feds charged Friday with taking up arms against America and planning to join Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Battle's mother, Deanna Douglas, told Newsweek that her son was a "jovial, really lovable prankster," high school football player and would-be hairdresser growing up in Houston.

    But after seeing the movie, Battle and his then-girlfriend converted to Islam, moved to Portland and started wearing traditional Muslim clothing.

    They married and had a son, now 6, who told neighborhood kids "that 9/11 is a good thing," Janette Dean, the mother of one of the neighborhood children, told Newsweek.

    Two of the six suspects named Friday are thought to be out of the country.

    One of those arrested, 31-year-old Patrice Lumumba Ford, pleaded not guilty to all charges during an arraignment in Portland on Friday.

    Battle and his ex-wife, October Martinique Lewis, 26, will be arraigned today.

    A suspect arrested in Michigan, 22-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, was ordered detained during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

    His 24-year-old brother, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, and 37-year-old Habis Abdullah al Saoub were identified as the two suspects still at large.

    "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh said in Boston federal court on Friday that he also first became fascinated with Islam after seeing "Malcolm X" with his mother.

    Lindh, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, was enthralled by the end of the movie, which shows thousands of Muslims fulfilling their pilgrimage to Mecca.

    'Asinine ... idiotic'

    Lee bristled last week when a Pennsylvania reporter asked his reaction to Lindh's comments.

    "He saw it when he was 12," the director told the Allentown Morning Call reporter. "There was no Taliban then, only Islam. Not all followers of Islam are terrorists. That question is not only asinine but idiotic."

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