A software engineer
from Oregon pleaded guilty Wednesday to aiding the Taleban and now
faces the likelihood of seven to 10 years in jail.
The Justice Department says Maher Hawash, a naturalized American
citizen of Palestinian descent, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring
to supply services to the Taleban following the 2001 terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington.
In a plea agreement filed with a federal judge in Portland, Oregon,
Hawash admitted that he and five other men agreed to go to Afghanistan
in October of 2001, prepared to take up arms for the Taleban and
die as martyrs, if necessary. As part of the plea agreement, two
other charges against Hawash were dropped including one count of
conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
Hawash and the others tried to get to Afghanistan by way of China
and Pakistan. But after numerous failed attempts, they returned
to the United States in November of 2001.
Five of the six others charged in the conspiracy have pleaded
innocent. The sixth suspect remains at large.
Hawash was arrested in a parking lot outside the Intel Corporation
in March where he worked. He was held as a material witness for
five weeks before charges were filed against him.
Prosecutors in Portland say Hawash became angry with the United
States in the days after the September 11 terrorist attacks and
then conspired with the other defendants to join the fight against
U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Hawash has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors under the plea
agreement. Prosecutors expect he will be sentenced to jail for
a period of 7 to 10 years.