PORTLAND, Ore. – Federal authorities charged a seventh person Monday with plotting to aid Al Qaeda (search) and Taliban (search) forces fighting U.S. soldiers a month after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Maher Hawash, a 39-year-old software engineer, was charged with conspiracy to levy war and two counts of conspiring to provide material support to the two groups. He has been in custody since late March.
The Justice Department said Hawash was part of a Portland-based group of six other suspects who have already been charged in the alleged plan.
"In a nutshell, Hawash was charged as a co-conspirator with the other six," said U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones, who is handling the case.
It was not immediately clear who was representing Hawash.
Hawash flew to Hong Kong on Oct. 24, 2001, where he joined up with five of the other defendants: Jeffrey Battle, Patrice Ford, Habis Abdullah Al Saoub and the brothers Ahmed and Muhammad Bilal, according to the Justice Department.
Another suspect, October Martinique Lewis, stayed in Portland and wired information and more than $2,000 to Battle, her ex-husband, as he tried to join the Taliban, according to last year's indictment.
Of the six other suspects, all are in custody except for Al Saoub, whose whereabouts are unknown.
The new complaint charges that Hawash traveled with the other defendants to western China and to Beijing with the intention of entering Afghanistan. Hawash and the other defendants allegedly stayed at the same hotels in China on at least three occasions.
Hawash returned to the United States in November 2001 after failing to enter Afghanistan, the complaint says. He has said the purpose of his trip to China was related to his personal software business.
Friends say Hawash is a Palestinian who became a U.S. citizen 15 years ago. He has worked at Intel since 1992, first as an employee and then as a contractor.
His friends speculated that he was arrested as agents look into a 2000 contribution of more than $10,000 he made to the Global Relief Foundation (search), an Islamic charity later investigated for possible financial links to terrorism.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Battle, Ford and several others were spotted wearing ethnic garb and shooting a shotgun, assault rifle and other firearms in a gravel pit in Skamania County, Wash.
That prompted around-the-clock surveillance by FBI teams, including some working with the secret warrants. The other six suspects were indicted last fall and their trial is scheduled to begin in October.
Hawash was held under a law that lets the government detain people expected to testify before a grand jury.