"Jihadists" living in Oregon, FBI says

The Associated Press

Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

PORTLAND — The FBI knows of "jihadists" who have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and are now living in Oregon, the agency's Oregon chief said in an interview with The Associated Press yesterday.

"We don't have an imminent threat that we're aware of. But I will say this: We have people here in Oregon that have trained in jihadist camps in bad areas. In the bad neighborhoods of the world," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jordan.

Asked what he meant by "bad neighborhoods," he said Afghanistan, as well as several other countries he would not specify.

During the session with The AP, which lasted nearly two hours, Jordan discussed a wide range of themes — from his agents' participation in the Bush administration's war on terrorism to the upcoming opening of a Portland laboratory for forensic work on computers seized from suspects.

Jordan refused to say how many "jihadists" live in Oregon.

He said the FBI knows "they've trained overseas, taken oaths to kill Americans and engage in jihad," but the challenge is "to prove those things."

Jordan contrasted the known "jihadists" living in Oregon with the so-called "Portland Seven," a group of seven Portland-area people accused of plotting to wage war against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. One of them was killed in combat; the six others returned to Oregon, where they eventually pleaded guilty to all the charges against them.

Discussing his office's participation in the ongoing war on terrorism, Jordan said that last fall FBI agents in Oregon took part in an analysis of crop-dusting aircraft across the country.

U.S. officials had received intelligence that al-Qaida intended to use a crop duster to spray biological or chemical weapons on American targets, he said.

Beth Anne Steele, spokeswoman for the FBI's Portland office, said it was the second time since Sept. 11, 2001, that FBI agents had interviewed owners and pilots of crop-duster planes.

The purpose is not just to make an accounting of where the aircraft are, she said, but also to encourage people who use the planes to contact the FBI if a suspicious person inquires about buying such aircraft.

Jordan said demands on the FBI's agents in Oregon have increased since the terror attacks and since the launching of the Iraq war.

He said some of his agents have been assigned to the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some also have been assigned to duties in Iraq. Jordan said that his chief bomb technician volunteered to go to Iraq, where he helped defuse improvised explosive devices — called IEDs — placed along roads.

Jordan also spoke of a new regional laboratory that is being set up in southeast Portland to analyze seized computers. He said the lab will have a staff of at least 12, and will include officers from local law-enforcement agencies.