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Saturday, May 17, 2003  

Meet the Porltand Seven:

Habis Abdulla al Saoub

Relatively little is known about one of the lesser* Portland Seven defendants, permanent resident Habis Abdulla al Saoub. He is 36, from Jordan and resided here during the time being probed. He worked at a series of blue collar jobs before becoming a suspect in the terrorism case. His whereabouts have been unknown since 2001.

The FBI is among those seeking information about al Saoub, to the tune of 5 million dollars for helping locate him.


Habis Abdulla Al Saoub is wanted in connection with a federal grand jury indictment returned on October 3, 2002, in Portland, Oregon. He is charged with conspiracy to levy war against the United States, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to Al-Qaeda, conspiracy to contribute services to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and possessing firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence.

Al Saoub is believed to have fled the United States on October 17, 2001. He is still thought to be outside the country.

Janet Buraik of Minneapolis says she knows the man. He is her former son-in-law.

Buraik and her daughter Huda first met Al Saoub in Peshewar, Pakistan, a hotbed for disaffected Muslims who shared a vision of a global jihad. . . Two months later, the couple married.  Buraik says she knows now Huda was just Al Saoub's ticket to the U.S. "She opened up her cosmetic bag and there are huge wads of money in there and I was like whoa, what is this?  And she says oh, it's his money," said Buraik.  She says over the next four years Al Saoub used Huda to make connections around the U.S.,  then deserted her and their three children.  They haven't heard from him since.  But Buraik says when she heard about the attacks on 9/11, she immediately questioned if her former son-in-law was connected.  "If somebody came to me today and said he's sitting with Osama Bin Laden, I'd believe it."

Al Saoub's disaffected mother-in-law, now an FBI informant, says she believes he funneled money to other terrorism suspects.

He is known to have accompanied the other Portland Seven male defendants on the trip to China. It is unclear whether he conversed with the local informant federal prosecutors are thought to be relying on.

I am referring to him as a lesser defendant because, though it may be possible to try and convict him in absentia, doing so will have little effect on his life if he remains at large. Al Souab may turn out to be the luckiest of the seven -- by being the one who got away.

2:03 AM