Chalk up one for the good guys. A Navy Sailor Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 32, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists and disclosing classified national defense information. He leaked details about ship movements to suspected terrorism supporters, an act that could have endangered his own crewmates. Abu-Jihaad is an American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall . He faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced May 23.
Abu-Jihaad, was a signalman aboard the USS Benfold, he of passed along details that included the makeup of his Navy battle group, its planned movements and a drawing of the group’s formation when it was to pass through the dangerous Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf on April 29, 2001.
Abu-Jihaad was charged in the same case that led to the 2004 arrest of Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist 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, who lived with his parents where the computer file was allegedly found, is to be extradited to the U.S.
Federal prosecutors said he sympathized with the enemy and admitted disclosing military intelligence. But they acknowledged they did not have direct proof that he leaked the ship details. Authorities said the details of ship movements had to have been leaked by an insider, saying they were not publicly known and contained military jargon. The leaked documents closely matched what Abu-Jihaad would have had access to as a signalman, authorities said. Prosecutors say investigators discovered files on a computer disk recovered from a suspected terrorism supporter’s home in London that included the ship movements, as well as the number and type of personnel on each ship and the ships’ capabilities. The file ended with instructions to destroy the message, according to testimony.Source :Ex-Sailor Convicted in Terror Case
Below is more on the Case from IPT
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March 3, 2008
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.
Jurors are deliberating the fate of that sailor, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, who stands accused of providing material support to terrorists and of leaking information about the Constellation battle group’s deployment to people devoted to killing Americans. 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 plans included a tentative date when the battle group 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 say its contents had to come from an insider. Defense attorneys counter that it could have come from a determined, but savvy search of the Internet.
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.
Abu-Jihaad faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. U.S. authorities are attempting to extradite Babar Ahmad from England to try him for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.