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US Software Engineer Pleads Guilty to Aiding Taleban
Jim Malone
VOA, Washington
06 Aug 2003, 20:07 UTC

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.