The Portland Seven, also known sometimes as the Portland Six or the Oregon Six, was a cell of Islamic terrorists (based in Portland, Oregon) who, in 2001-02, conspired to levy war against the United States and to provide support and resources for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Its members included Jeffrey Leon Battle, Maher Mofeid Hawash, Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub, Patrice Lumumba Ford, Ahmed Abrahim Bilal, Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal, and October Martinique Lewis, who was the only female among the conspirators.
Shortly after the 9/11 al Qaeda attacks against the U.S., a few of the Portland Seven’s male accomplices—who initially were contemplating acts of mass murder against Jewish schools or synagogues in the United States—underwent training in the use of shotguns, assault rifles, and semiautomatic pistols. On September 29, 2001, Deputy Sheriff Mark Mercer, acting on a tip from someone who had heard gunfire, discovered Jeffrey Leon Battle, Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub, Patrice Lumumba Ford, and a few other men as they engaged in shooting practice in a Skamania County, Washington gravel pit. After taking the men’s names, Mercer let them go and reported the incident to the FBI.
Mercer was fortunate to survive his brush with the terrorists. In a subsequent recorded conversation with an undercover FBI informant who was investigating the activities of the Portland Seven, Jeffrey Leon Battle stated that he and his companions had come very close to agreeing that they should kill Mercer while they had the opportunity. For further details regarding this, click here.
In October 2001, shortly after the U.S. had begun bombing Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in Afghanistan, the six male members of the Portland Seven—calling themselves by the Arabic name Katibat Al-Mawt (“The Squad of Death”)—traveled to China and then Pakistan, in hopes of gaining entry from there into Afghanistan, where they planned to join the jihadists who were already engaged militarily against American soldiers.
Meanwhile, October Martinique Lewis, who had remained in Portland, financed the men’s activities by repeatedly sending money to them via Western Union. When the men ultimately found that they were unable to breach Afghanistan’s sealed-off borders, five of the six—all except Habis Abdulla Al-Saoub—returned to the U.S. between November 19, 2001 and February 2002.
All seven of the Portland Seven conspirators were subsequently indicted and charged, variously, with conspiracy to levy war against the United States, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence.
Six of the seven—all but Habis Abdulla Ai-Saoub—eventually reached plea-bargain agreements with federal authorities and were sentenced to prison terms of varying lengths. Al-Saoub, for his part, was killed in October 2003 by Pakistani forces targeting an al Qaeda group that was suspected of crossing into Afghanistan to attack a U.S. base.
Further Reading: “Terrorist Blamed His Failure on Bush” (by Terence P. Jeffrey, 2-10-