After allegedly faking his own kidnapping and bolting from the U.S. amid formal charges of desertion, U.S. Marine deserter Wassef Ali Hassoun has finally returned. It has been a decade since he went missing in Iraq.
On June 20, 2004, Hassoun bailed on guard duty at his base in Fallujah. He took his military-issued gun and his Muslim prayer rug. Military records obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune showed that he was “torn between military loyalty and his Muslim beliefs.”
According to the internal probe, he undermined intelligence-gathering operations by refusing to translate questions about Islam. He balked at raising his voice to suspected jihadi imams and sheiks. He openly threatened to “walk out the front gate and leave.”
The Muslim Marine told his colleagues he supported Hezbollah terrorist attacks on Israel. Members of his unit told investigators he was “anti-American” and listened to jihad sermons on propaganda CDs. Hassoun had received spiritual counseling from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Abuhena Saifulislam, a Muslim military chaplain tied to a radical Wahhabist outfit under federal investigation, according to Hoover Institution fellow and journalist Paul Sperry.
A bizarre video by Hassoun’s Islamist “kidnappers” showed him blindfolded with a sword above his head. But his fellow Marines suspected it was all staged and the “abduction” a collaborative fake. What did the purported hostage-takers want in return for the shady, disgruntled American serviceman? The release of jihadists in “U.S.-led occupation prisons.” Translation: Gitmo detainees. (Americans would never negotiate such a reckless trade, right? Oh, wait.)
In an even weirder twist, Hassoun somehow resurfaced at the U.S. embassy in Lebanon a few weeks after he walked away from his base. His family was rumored to have enlisted the aid of an Islamist group associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hassoun denied desertion charges, came back to the U.S. for trial and then deserted a second time after failing to return to Camp Lejeune after visiting family in Utah.
May justice finally be served.