PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland city employee made his first appearance Tuesday in federal court on allegations that he provided assistance to a suicide bomber in a May 2009 Pakistan attack.
The attack at the headquarters of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence headquarters in Lahore killed 30 people and injured 300 others, prosecutors said.
Reaz Qadir Khan, a wastewater operator with the city of Portland since 2007, was indicted on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
Arrested Tuesday morning at his home in Southwest Portland, Khan appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Papak in the afternoon. Khan was detained and has a detention hearing on Wednesday.
The indictment outlines a nearly four-year correspondence between Khan and a Maldivian national, Ali Jaleel, who was behind the suicide attack. It alleges between Dec. 14, 2005, and June 2, 2009, Khan conspired with Jaleel to provide material support and resources.
Prosecutors said Khan emailed advice and sent money to Jaleel and his family and also provided financial assistance for Jaleel to attend terrorist training camps.
“Khan allegedly provided Jaleel with advice to help him in his efforts to travel undetected from the Maldives to commit violent jihad,” a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Court papers state Khan first contacted Jaleel in December 2005, saying “he felt he was ‘at a standstill in the matter of knowledge and practice.’” Jaleel sent a letter back the next month, alluding to past promises “he and Khan had made to seek martyrdom in the name of Allah,” according to court records.
After Jaleel attended a terrorist training camp in 2006, he contacted Khan again in 2008, inquiring about traveling to Pakistan for another camp. The indictment alleges Khan gave him advice on traveling undetected and arranged for Jaleel to receive $2,500 to pay for the camp.
Jaleel also sent an email to Khan in 2008, asking Khan to take care of his family and to educate his children and “bring them up well,” according to court documents.
“I understand your worries about your family … I will try to support them as much as possible,” Khan wrote to Jaleel, according to court documents.
On May 27, 2009, Jaleel and two others instigated the massive suicide attack.
Later, in a video released by an al-Qaida media outlet, footage was shown of Jaleel preparing for the attack at a training camp. He also made statements assuming responsibility for the attack, according to the news release.
The month following the attack, Khan allegedly wired $750 from a Fred Meyer store in Tigard, Ore., to one of Jaleel’s wives in the Maldives.
If convicted of the charge, Khan could spend life in a federal prison.
Chris Shortell, an assistant professor of political science at Portland State University, said the government prosecuted more than 100 cases involving providing material support to terrorists in 2010. About three-quarters of those cases resulted in convictions.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales released the following statement Tuesday night.
The deplorable act of triggering a bomb at a federal building in Lahore resulted in approximately 30 deaths and 300 injuries.
However, we should all remember that the charges contained in Mr. Khan's indictment are allegations only, and that Mr. Khan is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
This week's arrest brings home the reality that worldwide headlines can resonate right here in Portland.
KATU Reporter Bob Heye contributed to this report.