US Sailor Charged In 9-11 Events
Reading though this was more than a little chilling. When my ship sailed for the Gulf in Nov 01, USS BENFOLD was with us in the Carrier Group. Granted she was there before we were (although she may have had time to come home between April 2001 and November?) We also spent a lot of time sailing between the Straits of Hormuz all the way to Kuwait, doing escort duty, when not providing lifeguard for the Carrier.
Trial Opens For Ex-Navy Sailor Accused Of Helping Terrorists
POSTED: 11:41 am EST February 25, 2008
UPDATED: 12:07 pm EST February 25, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The trial of a former Navy sailor accused of communicating with suspected terrorists and leaking information that could have doomed his own ship was set to open in a federal courtroom Monday. His defense was prepared to describe government's case as weak.
Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, has pleaded not guilty to charges he provided material support to terrorists with intent to kill U.S. citizens and disclosed classified information relating to the national defense. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege that he sent details of the location and vulnerabilities of a Navy battle group to suspected terrorism supporters in London.
"I think it's a very important case," said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. "If we have members of our military who are aggressively passing on secrets to terrorists, that's cause for concern. It's a very aggressive act which would have brought real danger to the United States."
Abu-Jihaad, an American-born Muslim convert from Phoenix formerly known as Paul R. Hall, was a Navy signalman. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 2002.
The investigation that led to his arrest was one of the first to target online terrorism financiers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and experts have cited Abu-Jihaad's case as an example of how Internet propaganda fuels the radicalization process.
During a search of Ahmad's computers, investigators discovered files containing classified information about the positions of Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack, according to authorities. The ship details included the makeup of a Navy battle group, its planned movements and a drawing of the group's formation when it was to pass through the Straits of Hormuz on April 29, 2001.
Also charged in the case is Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running Web sites to raise money, appeal for fighters and provide equipment such as gas masks and night vision goggles for terrorists. Ahmad is to be extradited to the U.S.
The Web sites were the premier English-language mouthpiece of terrorists, according to Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert and a government witness for the trial.
Prosecutors acknowledge they don't have direct proof that Abu-Jihaad leaked details of ship movements, but an FBI affidavit says Abu-Jihaad exchanged e-mails with Ahmad in 2000 and 2001 while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer that was part of the battle group headed for the Straits of Hormuz. In those e-mails, investigators say, Abu-Jihaad discussed naval briefings and praised Osama bin Laden and those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.