Hassan Abujihaad, a Muslim American sailor who cheered the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, is accused of divulging ship locations to a suspected terror fund-raiser while serving aboard the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer in 2001 and 2002:
A former Navy sailor is accused of supporting terrorism by disclosing secret information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them.
The secrets wound up with a suspected terrorism financier, FBI investigators say.
During an initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Ariz., Hassan Abujihaad, 31, accepted removal to Connecticut.
He has been charged with supporting terrorism with intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information, reports David Moskowitz of CBS radio affiliate KFYI.
The case reveals a wide, intricate jihad web. The man he is accused of spilling secrets to is Babar Ahmad, “a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running Web sites to raise money for terrorism. Ahmad is scheduled to be extradited to the U.S. to face trial.”
Abujihaad, a former enlisted man, exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 and 2001, according to an affidavit released Wednesday. He allegedly purchased videos promoting violent jihad, or holy war.
“In these e-mails, he supported Osama bin Laden and the attack on the USS Cole” in Yemen in 2000, said special agent Deb McCarley of the FBI’s Phoenix office.
In those e-mails, Abujihaad discussed naval military briefings and praised those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000, according to the affidavit by FBI Agent David Dillon.
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. The ships were never attacked.
Authorities discovered Abujihaad’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, according to the affidavit.
The investigation was run out of Connecticut because Ahmad allegedly used an Internet service provider there to host one of his fundraising Web sites.
Ahmad was last heard from in the U.K. claiming the police there had fabricated evidence against him and desecrated his Koran by placing it on the floor during a search of his home. They’ve got the victim card game down pat. Here’s the warrant for Ahmad’s arrest–pdf file. The Washington Post has a few more details:
[Abujihaad ] allegedly sent money to order videos and corresponded with the now-defunct Web site — http://www.azzam.com– from a private e-mail account and his official military account.
“Abujihaad described a recent force protection briefing given aboard his ship, voiced enmity toward America, praised Usama bin Laden and the mujahideen, praised the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole — which Abujihaad described as a ‘martyrdom operation’ — and advised the members of Azzam Publications that such tactics were working and taking their toll,” according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor’s office in the District of Connecticut. The response from the Web site allegedly encouraged Hall’s efforts.
And remember the terrorist mall bomb plot from December involving Chicago-area jihad supporter Derrick Shareef, who made a martydom video and is accused of planning to use firearms and explosives to attack a local mall during the holidays? Shareef and Abujihaad are tied together, according to law enforcement:
According to the affidavit, Shareef and Abujihaad lived together in 2004 when Ahmad was arrested. After reading news reports of the case, Abujihaad became upset and said, “I think this is about me,” Shareef told investigators.
Authorities then taped a phone conversation between Abujihaad and an informant in which Abujihaad appeared nervous. Though Abujihaad didn’t say outright that he was involved in the leak of classified information, the affidavit provided enough evidence for an arrest warrant.
WaPo quotes from the taped conversation:
In a recorded conversation, Hall played down his contact with the Web site, according to charging documents.
“I corresponded with an e-mail site,” Hall allegedly said. “It wasn’t nothin’ top secret like these people are saying, you know what I mean? I was just talking about, like the Cole . . . whatever.”
Andrew Cochran at The Counterterrorism Blog has more and points out:
Abujihaad allegedly communicated with Ahmad while he was an enlisted Navy man with a “Secret” security clearance after the September 11 attacks. This raises questions in my mind whether the U.S. armed forces have sufficiently reviewed and revised their procedures for granting and renewing security clearances for active duty personnel. See this Lorenzo Vidino post in 2005 discussing the Abujihaad-Ahmad connection and other infiltrations by Islamists of Western armed forces. Political correctness is the enemy here.
Flashback: Muslim soldiers with attitude
Related: The enemy within