- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2002

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) One terrorism suspect worked for two Portland mayors. Two others were nursing assistants at a retirement home.
But suspicious behavior alarming messages to co-workers, a child's pro-terrorism remarks emerged from their quiet lives months before they were arrested Friday on charges of conspiring to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.
Patrice Lumumba Ford, Jeffery Leon Battle and October Martinique Lewis were arrested in early-morning raids Friday in Portland. Mohammed Ibrahim Bilal was arrested in Detroit. His brother, Ahmed Ibrahim Bilal, and Habis Abdulla Saoub were also indicted but remained at large yesterday.
According to the indictment, five of the suspects set out for Afghanistan in October 2001 with the intention of helping al Qaeda terrorists fight U.S. troops but never made it through the Chinese border. Lewis stayed in Portland and wired information and more than $4,000 to Battle, her ex-husband, as he tried to join Taliban forces, the indictment states.
Federal officials say four of the suspects including Battle and Ford also engaged in weapons training at a gravel pit in Washington state two weeks after the September 11 terror attacks.
Ford's family and co-workers knew the 31-year-old as a bright, quiet student who spent a year at Johns Hopkins University's prestigious program in China, earned a master's degree in Chinese studies and married a Chinese woman.
Named after the African resistance leader and first president of Congo, Ford worked as an international relations intern in 1986 for then-Portland Mayor Bud Clark and again in 1998 and 1999 for Portland Mayor Vera Katz, but no one at City Hall had distinct memories of the soft-spoken man.
However, at one point last year, Ford sent messages to several members of Ms. Katz's staff that concerned them enough to notify the FBI a month before the September 11 attacks, the mayor said. She said the FBI asked city officials not to comment further on the messages.
Ford pleaded not guilty Friday to the charges; arraignments for Lewis and Battle were postponed until tomorrow. All three remain in custody. In Detroit, Mohammed Bilal was ordered detained Friday by a federal judge who said he was a flight risk. All are U.S. citizens.
Lewis, 25, and Battle, 32, divorced just five months after their September 1999 marriage, but they continued to live together at a southwest Portland apartment complex flanked by two mosques.
Lewis' mother, Vivian Lewis, told the Oregonian that the couple worked as nursing assistants at a Portland retirement home.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide