The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, March 31, 2003  

Brought to You by the Patriot Act

Excerpts from "FBI, Joint Terrorism Agents Search Home in Hillsboro," by Mark Larabee and Les Zaitz, The Oregonian, March 21:

A software designer was being held Thursday as a material witness in a terrorism investigation after FBI agents searched his Hillsboro home and his office at Intel.

According to neighbors and co-workers, Maher Mofeid Hawash, 38, was the target of Thursday's searches by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Hawash was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on Thursday afternoon and put on a "material witness hold" at the request of the U.S. Marshal's Service, a sheriff's department spokesman said. A material witness designation allows the government to hold someone in order to compel testimony.

The FBI issued a short statement Thursday morning saying that in an "ongoing investigation," the Joint Terrorism Task Force had executed four federal search warrants in the Hillsboro area and that the Hillsboro Police Department assisted in the searches.

Prosecutors and investigators refused to say who the target of their search was or what they were looking for. The federal search warrants filed in the case are sealed, meaning the information in them is secret. Asked whether anyone was taken into custody as a result of the searches, officials said they could not answer the question because of a court order.

"A software designer." "Agents searched…his office at Intel." Maher Mofeid Hawash.

It all sounds so…sinister, doesn't it?

The Oregonian seems to be happy to play along: "Hawash, who also goes by the name 'Mike'" was how Larabee and Zaitz framed that nugget. "Goes by the name"? You mean, like an alias? Or something more ordinary, like maybe a nickname? Or something akin to the way my grandfather was called Lou, even though his parents named him Lucido?

Oh, and The Oregonian's report left out one very important fact: Mr. Hawash is a citizen of the United States. He's as American as, well, even Michelle Malkin and her Filipino immigrant parents.

Details are sketchy -- what with the grotesquely misnamed Patriot Act and all -- but the trigger behind the FBI's raid, which included the obligatory assault rifles, apparently was contributions Hawash made to an organization called the Global Relief Foundation. Hawash says he believed he was donating to a humanitarian organization; the FBI says the group provided funds for terrorist activities.

Friends of Hawash, currently detained incommunicado at in the Sheridan (Ore.) Federal Prison, have launched a web site, "Free Mike Hawash," where you can find more information about the matter and a defense fund they have established.

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