Skip to comments.Ex-Sailor Found Guilty of Leaking Ship Movements
Posted on 03/06/2008 11:21:22 AM PST by K-oneTexas
March 3, 2008
*Updated NEW HAVEN - Months after the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors docked in Yemen, a battle group led by the USS Constellation prepared to sail for the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. was saber rattling. Retaliation against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda for the Cole attack was anticipated. Unbeknownst to Navy leadership, a signalman on the destroyer Benfold was in direct communication at the time with a British-based publishing house openly supporting the Taliban and jihadi movements. He ordered graphic videos of Chechen rebels attacking and killing Russian soldiers.
On Wednesday, jurors convicted that sailor, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, of providing material support to terrorists and of leaking information about the Constellation battle group's deployment to people devoted to killing Americans. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced May 23.
Abu-Jihaad came under scrutiny after British authorities found the plans on a floppy disk in a bedroom drawer of an Azzam Publications official in 2003. Babar Ahmad directed Azzam Publications, which marketed the videos purchased by Abu-Jihaad, along with a series of related websites. The battle group plans included a tentative date when the ships would pass through the narrow Straits of Hormuz and the claim that "They have nothing to stop a small craft with RPG etc. except their Seals' stinger missiles." Finally, it said, "Please destroy message."
Prosecutors didn't say the Abu-Jihaad authored the document, but insisted its contents had to come from an insider. Defense attorneys countered that it could have come from a determined, but savvy search of the Internet.
In a statement, the Justice Department hailed the verdict as a victory against "those who would compromise our national security in the name of violent jihadism."
"Mr. Abu-Jihaad jeopardized the lives of countless American servicemen and women and, as a member of the U.S. Navy, his conduct was shameful and deceitful," stated Kathryn A. Feeney, Resident Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. "However, due to the efforts of a talented team of investigators and prosecutors, Mr. Abu-Jihaad has been held accountable for his aid to the enemy. For the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, no calling is higher than the protection of our American Warfighters."
Abu-Jihaad, who was born Paul Hall and changed his name when he converted to Islam, was the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces communicating with Azzam Publications, prosecutor Stephen Reynolds said in closing arguments Monday. Azzam Publications recruited people to become mujahideen and raised money to support the Taliban in Afghanistan and Chechen rebels.
However, prosecutors do not have any direct evidence showing Abu-Jihaad communicated the ships' transit plans. That, defense attorney Dan LaBelle argued Monday, is among the case's "fundamental flaws." He dismissed Abu-Jihaad's emails with Azzam Publications as a distraction and said the plan found in England contained too many errors to have come from his client.
LaBelle hired a reporter to search the Internet for public source information about the battle group's movements, finding everything from newspaper stories about its planned departure to an MIT alumni bulletin board in which someone had posted the date the group shipped out as part of a family update.
Prosecutors counter that the information in the battle group document closely follows information that only someone in a position like Abu-Jihaad would know. For example, it referenced a stop in Hawaii to pick up Tomahawk cruise missiles that was a late change in the itinerary.
"The BG [Battle Group] mission is to hold up the sanctions against Iraq, e.g. patrolling the No-Fly Zone, carry out Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) or launch strikes," the file said. "There is a possibility that the ships and submarines that are capable will carry out a strike against Afghanistan. Main targets Usama and the Mujahideen, Taliban, etc," the document said.
Prosecutors contend Abu-Jihaad admitted his crimes in a wiretapped telephone call with a federal informant in 2006. In the call, Abu-Jihaad spoke in code about "hot meals" and "cold meals." Prosecutors say the meals refer to intelligence and Abu-Jihaad could only offer cold meals because by 2006 he had been out of the Navy too long. He was honorably discharged in 2002.
"I ain't been working in the field of making meals in a long time," Abu-Jihaad said in the call. "I've been out of that quatro years."
While deployed in the Persian Gulf in July 2001, Abu-Jihaad sent another email to Azzam Publications, praising the Cole attack as a "martyrdom operation." That attack prompted new security briefings, Abu-Jihaad wrote, and increased anxiety among U.S. sailors. The email was not punctuated and contained spelling and grammatical errors:
during the brief I attended there was one thing that stuck out like thorns on a rose bush I do not know who was the originator of this either the top brass or an american politician well here is his statement "america has Never faced an enemy with no borders no government no diplomats not a standing army that pledges allegiance to no state." Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! i give takbirs because I know deep down in my heart that the American enemies that this person describe is the Mujahideen Feesabilillah. These brave men are the true champions and soldiers of Allah in this dunya With their only mission in life to make Allah's name and laws supreme all over this world.
A response came from "just another slave of Allah at Azzam Publications." It complimented Abu-Jihaad for his email, adding "the Kufar know that they cannot defeat the Mujahideen (the warriors of Allah). I trust you are doing your best to make sure that the other brothers & sisters in uniform are reminded that their sole purpose of existence in this duniya is purely to worship our Lord and Master, Allah (SWT) .Keep up with the Dawah and the psychlogical (sic) warefare (sic)"
LaBelle said it wasn't reasonable for someone who had leaked such sensitive information about his own ship to send such a note to the very people he allegedly provided the secrets. And he argued that most, if not all, of the material his client is accused of leaking was generally available to the public.
U.S. authorities are attempting to extradite Babar Ahmad from England to try him for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
Ex-Sailor Convicted in Terrorism Case A former Navy sailor was convicted Wednesday of leaking details about ship movements to suspected terrorism supporters, an act that could have endangered his own crewmates. Jurors convicted Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, of Phoenix of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information on the second day of deliberations. The American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in May. His attorney, Dan LaBelle, said an appeal was likely
(AP, 5 Mar 08) Islam Convert Who Leaked Navy Secrets Faces 25 Years A former U.S. sailor accused of leaking military secrets that could have been used to kill scores of his shipmates was found guilty......As a result of his conviction, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, an unremarkable, 32-year-old native Californian and convert to Islam, faces as much as 25 years in prison. Those in the courtroom said he seemed unmoved when a jury, deliberating less than two days, found him guilty of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information.
(Hartford Courant, 6 Mar 08)
Ex-Sailor Convicted in Terrorism Case
A former Navy sailor was convicted Wednesday of leaking details about ship movements to suspected terrorism supporters, an act that could have endangered his own crewmates. Jurors convicted Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, of Phoenix of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information on the second day of deliberations. The American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in May. His attorney, Dan LaBelle, said an appeal was likely (AP, 5 Mar 08)
Islam Convert Who Leaked Navy Secrets Faces 25 Years
A former U.S. sailor accused of leaking military secrets that could have been used to kill scores of his shipmates was found guilty......As a result of his conviction, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, an unremarkable, 32-year-old native Californian and convert to Islam, faces as much as 25 years in prison. Those in the courtroom said he seemed unmoved when a jury, deliberating less than two days, found him guilty of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information. (Hartford Courant, 6 Mar 08)
More information on the Abu-Jihaad Case
Hassan Abu-Jihaad (Paul R. Hall) and Babar Ahmad
|Name:|| Hassan Abu-Jihaad, formerly Paul R. Hall
|Arrested:||Wednesday, 7 March 2007 in Phoenix, AZ|| August 2004
Battling his extradition to the United States in British courts
|Charges:|| Charged with supporting terrorism with intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people
(1) Providing material support or resources, knowing or intending that they are to be used in preparation for, on in carrying out, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §2332(b) (conspiring to kill United States nationals), in violation of 18 U.S.C.§2339A; and (2) delivering, communicating, transmitting or causing the delivery, communication or transmission of classified information relating to the national defense to persons not entitled to receive it, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §793(d)
|Charges of conspiring to provide support to terrorists; providing material support to terrorists including al Qaeda and the Taliban; conspiring to kill, kidnap or injure U.S. citizens; and engaging in money laundering|
|Spying For:||Al Qaeda/Islamic jihadists||Al Qaeda/Islamic jihadists|
|Spying Activities:||Exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 and 2001. He allegedly purchased videos promoting violent jihad, or holy war. In those e-mails, Abu-jihaad discussed naval military briefings and praised those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000. The documents retrieved from Ahmad show drawings of Navy battle groups and discuss upcoming missions. They also say the battle group could be attacked using small weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades.
Abu-jihaad's messages also disclosed that the battle group would pass through the Strait of Hormuz 19 days later, adding: "They have nothing to stop a small craft with RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) etc. except their Seals' stinger missiles. . . . Please destroy message."
|Occupation:||From 1998 to 2002, Abu-jihaad served as a signalman second class aboard the destroyer USS Benfold. Held a SECRET security clearance; received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002.
USS Benfold (DDG-65) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
Last job: Deliveryman for United Parcel Services (UPS) in Phoenix.
| Computer Specialist
1997-2204, ran websites for Azzam publications (http://www.azzam.com) which used to carry propaganda for al Qaeda, including bin Laden's 1996 Declaration of War against the United States. The Azzam Web site was a key recruitment and propaganda tool for al Qaeda and mujahedeen. One posting read "Military training is an Islamic obligation, not an option." Another site carried an appeal for "tens of thousands" of gas masks and nuclear, chemical and biological warfare suits.
|Age:||24 December 1976||1974|
|Home:||Phoenix, AZ||London, England|
|Abu-jihaad was an associate and former roommate of Derrick Shareef, who allegedly tried to explode grenades at the CherryVale Mall outside Chicago during the height of the holiday shopping season last December. Shareef was arrested on Dec. 6, 2006.
Family lives in San Bernardino, California
| Parents moved to England from Pakistan in the early 1960s.
|Possible Motivations/ Problems:||
US Navy sailor Paul Hall/Hassan Abu-jihaad email to Azzam Publications six months after the October 2000 USS Cole attack:
"Brothers/Sisters of Al-Islam: I am a Muslim stationed onboard a US warship currently operating deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
It shall be noted before Usama's latest video was viewed by massive people all over the world. That psychological anxiety had already set in on America's forces everywhere. All this is due to the martyrdom operation against the USS Cole. Since then every warship station either on the Western or Eastern shores of America who come to operate in the 5th Fleet op area has to be given a force protect brief. Well during the brief, I attended there was one thing stuck out like thorns on a rose bush. I do not know who was the originator of this either top brass or an American politician. Well here is his/her statement: "America has Never faced an enemy with no borders, no government, no diplomats, nor a standing army that pledges allegiance to no state."
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! I give takbirs because I know deep down in my heart that the American enemies that this person has discribe [sic] is the Mujahideen Feesabilillah. These brave men are the true champions and soldiers of Allah in this dunya. I understand fully that they are the men who have brought honor to this weak ummah in the lands of jihad Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, etc. Alhamdulillah! With their only mission in life to make Allah's name and laws supreme over this world.
I want to let it be known that I have been in the Middle East for almost a total of 3 months. For these 3 months you can truly see the effects of this psychological warfare taking a toll on junior and high ranking officers. But after the latest video supporting Palestine, the top brass and American officials were running around like headless chickens very afraid, wondering if there is a possible threat. But this time the American population got wind of this and they came to know just how afraid the US government is. Thomas J. Friedman wrote an article in the New York Times called: "What it takes to make the Americans turn tail, run" This article was distributed on my ship and most of the sailors said it was so true about the American government, and they feel like they are working for a bunch of scary pussies.
[signed] A Brother serving a Kuffar nation, Astaghfir'Allah....Hassan
|BIO:||Islamic convert|| "Free Babar Ahmad" website
Masters degree in engineering at Imperial College London
|Investigation:|| Investigation that began in Connecticut followed a suspected terrorist network across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.
Authorities discovered Abu-jihaad's military e-mail address among the computer files, and he had a secret security clearance that would have allowed him access to that material.
An FBI cooperating source (CS) in Chicago became acquainted last year with Derreck Shareef, Abu-jihaad's ex-roommate in Phoenix, and helped set up a sting.
| During a search of Ahmad's computers, investigators said they discovered files containing classified information about the positions of U.S. Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack.
Investigation was run out of Connecticut because Ahmad allegedly used an Internet service provider there to host one of his fundraising Web sites
|Court:||U.S. District Court in Phoenix, AZ|
Maybe I’m bigoted, but if I had a guy on my ship named “Jihad” I’d monitor him extra closely.
The guy converted to Islam from Christianity....
You would think that someone with a name like Abu Jihaad would at least cause his supervisors to be more vigilant.
I’m bigoted against guys named Jihad, no matter what their current or former religious affiliations are.
Keel-haul this guy.
You’re not bigoted, you’re merely logical.
A democrat no doubt..
too bad keelhauling isn’t still on the books.
A leaking ship should be moving back to port... real quick.
“You would think that someone with a name like Abu Jihaad would at least cause his supervisors to be more vigilant.”
Wait till the next Abu Jihaad is the commanding officer of a nuclear sub. Who is going to check that man?
You think I’m kidding? Sooner or later we’ll get a Muslim sub driver - remember we are an equal opportunity nation. You cannot deny them the opportunity to destroy our country.
How about a new rule. If you change your name to something anti-western, we offer you a discharge. Period.
There is nothing ‘muslim’ about changing your name. It’s a rebuke of everybody non-muslim when you change your name. Its a way of saying ‘i’m not one of you’ and its a giant ‘F. U.’.
Barack Hussein Obama is not a muslim and reportedly never was.
The muslim father who named him Barack Hussein Obama was also reportedly an non-observant muslim and the son of a man who converted from Roman Catholicism to Islam and changed his name to Hussein.
So why did the non-observant muslim name his non-muslim son with a muslim name? Why didn’t he name his son after his Roman Catholic father’s original name?