Brandon Mayfield (KGW Photo)
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FBI agents arrested a Portland, Ore., man Thursday as part of the investigation into the deadly train bombings in Spain, federal officials said.
Brandon Bieri Mayfield, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody on a material witness warrant, said a senior law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The arrest is the first known in the United States with connections to the March 11 bombings in Madrid.
The FBI also searched his home, which he shares with his wife, the official said.
Beth Anne Steele, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Portland, confirmed two search warrants had been served Thursday in Washington County, which includes parts of Portland. She would not release further details.
Sue Rutledge, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland, said the warrants were served in the cities of Portland and Beaverton. She could not comment about whether the warrants were connected to the train bombings in Madrid, or whether there had been any arrests.
Material witness warrants, usually kept confidential by a federal judge, are used by the government to hold people suspected of having direct knowledge about a crime or to allow time for further investigation into the witness.
Officials would not provide any further details about Mayfield or his alleged connection with the Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people and injured 2,000 others. Spanish authorities blame the attack on Islamic extremists, possibly linked to Al Qaeda.
Eighteen people have been charged to date in Spain — six charged with mass murder and the others with collaboration or with belonging to a terrorist organization. The FBI and other U.S. agencies have warned that Al Qaeda or its sympathizers might attempt to attack mass transit systems in major U.S. cities this summer.
Earlier this year, in Portland, the last of six men and a woman were sentenced on charges of conspiring to wage war against the United States by helping Al Qaeda and the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.
UPDATE: Prepare yourselves. Reuters, of all places, has identified the lawyer as a Muslim. No doubt they see it as more evidence of prejudice: as Mayfield’s brother said, “I think the reason they are holding him is because he is of the Muslim faith and because he is not super happy with the Bush administration.”
Or could his arrest have something to do with this fact reported by Newsweek? Brandon Mayfield’s fingerprints allegedly were found on bomb-related evidence associated with the Madrid attacks.
A Muslim lawyer from Portland, Oregon, was detained by the FBI on Thursday without explanation, his family said, but Newsweek magazine said he was being held in connection with the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in March.