Born in 1971 in Portland, Oregon (where he was raised), Patrice Lumumba Ford was a member of the Portland Seven, a cell of Islamic terrorists who conspired to levy war against the United States and to provide support and resources for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Ford’s fellow Portland Seven members included Maher Mofeid Hawash, Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub, Ahmed Abrahim Bilal, Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, Jeffrey Leon Battle, and October Martinique Lewis.
Ford’s father, Kent Ford, once headed the Portland chapter of the Black Panther Party. The elder Ford named his son after Patrice Lumumba, the pro-Soviet, Congolese independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Patrice Lumumba Ford enrolled at Morehouse College in 1989 but dropped out within the first two years because he found the school “too elitist.” He later attended Portland State University, where he majored in Chinese and International Studies. During his college years in the mid-1990s, Ford converted to Islam and began to pray at the Islamic Center of Portland, most of whose members were immigrants of Arab and North African heritage. He also served as an intern in the office of Portland Mayor Vera Katz in 1998-99.
After his stint in City Hall, Ford started to embrace an increasingly extremist brand of Islam; as outward signs of this, he grew out his beard and began wearing a skull-cap and Arab-style clothing.
Following a brief internship in Taiwan, Ford spent three semesters studying at the Hopkins center in Nanjing, China, where he met a local (non-Muslim) female journalist named Xie Chunlin. In 2000, Ford brought Xie back to Portland and married her, notwithstanding the fact that he had previously voiced a desire to wed a “real” Muslim woman—i.e., one who was “ready to run and blow something up” with an AK-47. The newly married Ford supported himself and his bride by teachng martial arts, marketing cellular telephones, and using his Dodge Caravan to run a shuttle service.
In August 2001 Ford sent a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel emails to the office of Portland’s mayor, who was Jewish. In one of those emails, Ford said that Portland should break off its sister-city relationship with Ashkelon, Israel, due to the Jewish state’s allegedly poor treatment of Palestinians. He also made an approving reference to Derry Jackson, a Portland school board member who had recently stated, “I see the Jews running everything.” The mayor’s office forwarded Ford’s emails to the Portland Police Bureau.
On September 29, 2001, Deputy Sheriff Mark Mercer, who was acting on a tip from someone who had heard gunfire in the vicinity, discovered Ford, Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub, Jeffrey Leon Battle, and a few other men as they were engaged in shooting practice in a Skamania County, Washington gravel pit. After taking the men’s names, Mercer let them go and then reported the incident to the FBI.
Ford fled the United States on October 20, 2001 in order to avoid being arrested and interrogated vis à vis the September 29 incident. That same month, Ford and his five male allies from the Portland Seven—calling themselves by the Arabic name Katibat Al-Mawt (“The Squad of Death”)—traveled to China in hopes of gaining entry from there into Pakistan and ultimately Afghanistan, where they planned to join the al Qaeda and Taliban forces that were engaged militarily against American soldiers. But upon finding that they were unable to breach Afghanistan’s sealed-off borders, all except Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub returned to the U.S. between November 19, 2001 and February 2002.
On October 3, 2002, a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (in Portland) indicted Ford, and he was arrested the next day. Ford pleaded guilty to one count of seditious conspiracy and to levying war against American and allied forces.
On November 24, 2003, Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced both Ford and Jeffrey Leon Battle to 18 years in prison (which avoided him having to go to prison for life), telling them: “You do not represent the Muslim faith. You are an insult to the Muslim faith.”