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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Portland lawyer released

A Case of Mistaken Fingerprints?
MSNBC: Federal authorities Thursday released an Oregon lawyer held in connection with the Madrid terror bombings after Spanish police said that fingerprints on a bag containing detonators like those used in the bombing were not his.

The man, Brandon Mayfield, 37, a lawyer and former Army officer who converted to Islam in the late 1980s, was arrested May 6 as a material witness. FBI agents also searched his home in the Portland suburb of Aloha.

The Spanish government announced then that his prints had been uncovered on a plastic shopping bag, which was inside a stolen van that had been left near the train station from which three of the four bombed trains departed. The bag contained detonators of the kind used in the attack, which killed 191 people and injured 2,000 others on March 11, officials said.

Thursday, Spanish police said that the fingerprints were actually those of a man from Algeria, identified as Ouhnane Daoud, who remains at large.

Spanish police would not comment when asked whether the development fully exonerated Mayfield, but U.S. officials had told NBC News earlier Thursday that the prints were the only information that could link him to the bag.

Senior law enforcement officials told NBC News earlier this month that Mayfield had been matched with the fingerprints on the bag through the FBI fingerprint database, adding that his prints were in the system because he served in the U.S. military.

Mayfield passed the Oregon bar in 2000 and largely kept a low profile in the Portland legal community until 2002, when he volunteered to represent a Muslim terrorism suspect, Jeffrey Battle, in a child custody case.

Battle was among six Portland-area residents who were sentenced last year on charges of conspiring to wage war against the United States by helping al-Qaida and the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

Mayfield was not involved with Battle’s defense in that case. Law enforcement officials in Washington did not know of any contacts between Mayfield and the other Portland terrorism defendants.
Oh, one last quote:
Holding a Quran and grasping his wife’s hand, Mayfield walked out of the Multnomah County Detention Center in downtown Portland on Thursday afternoon.

“I want to thank my family and friends who were supporting me through this, what I would call a harrowing ordeal. I just want to say God is great. There is no God but God," he said at a news conference.

Is that, might that be, is the translation, Allah Akbar? After seeing (and hearing) the video of Nick Berg's slaughter, I don't really want to hear that.