US 'deserter' returns after 10 years missing

Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun was last seen in a videotape apparently being held by militants, blindfolded and with a sword poised over his head.

US 'deserter' returns after 10 years missing

World Bulletin / News Desk

American officials said on Sunday that US marine “deserter” who returned to the United States is back in military custody after disappearing in Iraq.

The Marine Corps said Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, is scheduled to return to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Monday nine-and-a-half years after he failed to report for duty there on 5 January, 2005, following a visit to his family.

Commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Lejeune, Major General Raymond Fox, will determine whether to court martial Hassoun.

In a written statement from its headquarters at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps said: “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Corporal Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.”

After Hassoun disappearing from his base near Falluja, Iraq, in June 2004, he was first charged with desertion a decade ago. He turned up a month later claiming to have been kidnapped by militants.

He showed up unharmed at the US Embassy in Beirut in July 2004 after he was seen in a videotape apparently being held by militants, blindfolded and with a sword poised over his head.

He denied deserting and told reporters he had been captured and held against his will.

But after a five-month investigation, the Marines alleged that Hassoun had “taken unauthorized leave of the unit where he served as an Arabic interpreter,” the service said in a 2004 release.

Hassoun failed to report back to Camp Lejeune after visiting his family in Utah before the start of the military proceedings against him.

According to media reports, Hassoun fled the United States through Canada and went to Lebanon, where he was born. He was then officially classified as a deserter by his Commanders and civilian police was authorized to apprehend him.

A short time later Hassoun was placed on a Navy list of “most wanted” fugitives. A mugshot of him appeared on a Navy criminal justice website, which claimed the missing corporal used the alias “Jafar". 

Last Mod: 30 Haziran 2014, 16:36
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