- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The first American arrested in the deadly train bombing in Madrid is a former Army lieutenant and a convert to Islam who lives in a nondescript suburban home and faithfully attends a nearby mosque.

Family members say Brandon Mayfield is innocent and has never even been to Spain. But law enforcement officials there said Friday that his fingerprints had been found on bags containing detonators of the kind used in the March 11 attack, which killed 191 persons and injured 2,000 others.

He is being held as a material witness, which allows the government to detain him without filing formal charges, to allow time for further investigation.

“I think it’s crazy — we haven’t been outside the country for 10 years,” said his wife, Mona. “They found only a part of one fingerprint. It could be anybody. He was in the Army and they’re just trying to fit a certain profile.”

Mr. Mayfield, 37, is a lawyer who took low-income immigration and family-law clients at his practice in suburban Portland, once representing Muslim terrorism suspect Jeffrey Battle in a child custody case.

Battle was among six Portland-area residents who were sentenced last year on charges of conspiring to wage war against the United States by helping al Qaeda and the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

Mr. Mayfield was born in Oregon and grew up in Halstead, Kan., a small farming town about 30 miles northwest of Wichita. He joined the Army right out of high school and was stationed in Germany among other places. He later earned a law degree and settled down in Portland, where he and his Egyptian-born wife have three children.

“He has always been a delight,” said his stepmother, Ruth Alexander of Halstead, recalling a compassionate child who once kept a pet grasshopper. “This is positively unbelievable. He was never in any trouble growing up.”

Mr. Mayfield met his wife on a blind date in 1987 while stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash. Records from Washoe County, Nev., show the two were married in 1998. Their children are ages 10, 12 and 15.

Their youngest was born on the Bitburg Air Base in western Germany, where Mr. Mayfield was stationed in the air defense unit. Mona Mayfield, 35, said her husband’s only trip to the Middle East was in 1993, when the couple and their children took a 30-day leave to travel to Egypt.

Mr. Mayfield was honorably discharged in 1994, after a shoulder injury. He attended Lewis & Clark law school in Portland for a semester, and received his degree from Washburn University in Kansas. He passed the Oregon bar in 2000.

Mr. Mayfield received his undergraduate degree from Portland State University, where his favorite topic was constitutional law.

“If the Constitution could be a religion — that would be his religion,” his wife said.

Mr. Mayfield converted to Islam after marriage, Mrs. Alexander said. He became a regular at a mosque near their home, where his red hair and white skin stood out in a crowd of mostly new immigrants from Muslim countries.

He was reserved, but liked to talk about what he considered civil rights violations of Muslims after September 11, the administrator of his mosque, Shahriar Ahmed, said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide