A member of the group of Portland-area Muslims convicted of conspiring to wage war against the United States won’t be subject to additional prison time, despite his refusal to testify in front of a grand jury, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
But U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones also ruled that the time Patrice Lumumba Ford recently served in the Multnomah County jail will not count toward his 18-year prison sentence, imposed in November 2003.
Ford, who was convicted of attempting to join the Taliban in late fall 2001, was subpoenaed in July by a grand jury in Portland. Beyond confirming his name at grand jury proceedings, Ford refused to answer any questions, saying that his religion prohibited him from implicating a fellow Muslim.
“I find his beliefs in good faith,” said Jones. “Mr. Ford’s beliefs are sincere — he will not be coerced to testify.”
Ford has said that he tried to reach Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 to fulfill an Islamic duty to defend fellow Muslims. Ford and other Portland-area Muslims got as far as western China, but visa troubles thwarted their efforts to get to the war zone. The FBI arrested and convicted six members in 2002. The alleged ringleader remained abroad and died in a shootout with U.S. forces on the Afghan border in 2003.