- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The final three members of a group of Muslim men from the Portland area who tried to enter Afghanistan to join the Taliban army were each sentenced to prison time yesterday.

They were among six men and one woman accused of conspiring to wage war on the United States.

Maher Hawash, a 39-year-old Palestinian, was sentenced yesterday to seven years in prison. Ahmed Bilal, 25, was sentenced to 10 years, and his brother, Muhammed, 23, was sent to prison for eight years.

Hawash, a former Intel software engineer, was the last of the group to be arrested. He initially was held as a material witness, but he later became the first to plead guilty — in exchange for a reduced sentence — to conspiring to provide services to the Taliban.

The Bilal brothers, among the original group of those arrested in October 2002, had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban and to firearms charges. Their pleas were in exchange for dismissal of a charge of conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

Two other men who were allied with the Bilal brothers and Hawash already have been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Patrice Lumumba Ford, 32, and Jeffrey Leon Battle, 33, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy.

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