US Sailor Conducted Espionage on Behalf of Al-Qaeda
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
(The following is based on court documents and a law enforcement report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.)\
Hassan Abu-Jihaad, formerly known as Paul R. Hall, 33, of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven to 120 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for disclosing previously classified information relating to the national defense.
â€œThis defendant provided classified information to others with the understanding that it could be used to endanger the lives of hundreds of members of the United States Navy, and we are pleased that the court imposed the maximum prison term allowed under the law,â€ Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy stated. â€œI want to acknowledge the efforts of all the agents, analysts and prosecutors involved in this matter who have worked diligently over the course of several years to bring this defendant to justice.â€
According to the evidence provided at trial, in 2001, four or five months after the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, Abu-Jihaad provided classified information regarding the movements of a United States Navy battle group, which was charged with enforcing sanctions against the Taliban and engaging in missions against Al-Qaeda, to Azzam Publications, a London-based organization that is alleged to have provided material support and resources to persons engaged in acts of terrorism through the creation and use of various Internet web sites, e-mail communications, and other means, including www.azzam.com.
Between approximately February 2000 and the end of 2001, the web site http://www.azzam.comwww.azzam.com was hosted on the computer servers of a web hosting company located in Trumbull, Connecticut.
At the time the classified information was disclosed to Azzam Publications, Abu-Jihaad was a sailor in the United States Navy on active duty in the Middle East and was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Benfold, one of the ships in the battle group whose movements were disclosed.
Evidence presented at trial indicated that, in December 2003, British law enforcement officers recovered a computer floppy disk in a residence of one of the operators of Azzam Publications. Forensic analysis of the disk revealed a password-protected Microsoft Word document describing previously classified information regarding the upcoming movements of a U.S. Naval battle group as it was to transit from San Diego to its deployment in the Persian Gulf in 2001. The document went on to discuss the battle groupâ€™s perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack.
According to the evidence at trial, subsequent investigation uncovered several email exchanges from late 2000 to late 2001 between members of Azzam Publications and Abu-Jihaad, including discussions regarding videos Abu-Jihaad ordered from Azzam Publications that promoted violent jihad and extolled the virtues of martyrdom; a small donation of money Abu-Jihaad made to Azzam Publications; and whether it was â€œsafeâ€ to send materials to Abu-Jihaad at his military address onboard the U.S.S. Benfold.
In another email exchange with Azzam Publications, Abu-Jihaad described a recent force protection briefing given aboard his ship, voiced enmity toward America, praised Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen, praised the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole — which Abu-Jihaad described as a â€œmartyrdom operation,â€ –and advised the members of Azzam Publications that such tactics were working and taking their toll. The email response from Azzam Publications encouraged Abu-Jihaad to â€œkeep up… the psychological warfare.â€
The evidence at trial also indicated that Abu-Jihaadâ€™s contact information — namely, his Navy email account — was among the few saved in an Azzam Publications online address book.
The evidence at trial included the testimony of six Navy witnesses indicating, among other things, that as a Signalman in the Navigation Division of the U.S.S. Benfold during the 2001 deployment, Abu-Jihaad had access to certain classified information, including advance knowledge of the battle groupâ€™s movements.
The evidence at trial also included court-authorized wiretap recordings, during which Abu-Jihaad used coded conversation to refer to jihad; admonished others not to speak openly about jihad over the phone or on the Internet because it was â€œtappedâ€; and discussed having conversations with associates using a shredder and after frisking them for electronic components.
The calls played for the jury also included Abu-Jihaadâ€™s use of the terms â€œhot mealsâ€ and â€œcold mealsâ€ in reference to his current and former ability, respectively, to provide inside information or intelligence about potential U.S. military targets. Abu-Jihaad told an associate that he â€œhadn’t been on that job in X amount of years . . . to see . . . what the fresh meal is,â€ and in 2006, told another associate that he had not â€œbeen in the field of making mealsâ€ for more than four years. The evidence established that Abu-Jihaad had left the U.S. Navy in 2002.
On March 5, 2008, a federal jury in New Haven found Abu-Jihaad guilty of one count of providing material support of terrorism, and one count disclosing previously classified information relating to the national defense. On March 4, 2009, Judge Kravitz partially granted a defense motion for a judgment of acquittal on the material support of terrorism charge. The charge of disclosing previously classified information relating to the national defense carries a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Acting U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy commended the substantial efforts and cooperation of the several federal law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven, Phoenix and Chicago; the United States Attorneyâ€™s Offices in Phoenix and Chicago; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); and the Internal Revenue Serviceâ€™ Electronic Crimes Program.
Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy also praised the substantial efforts of law enforcement authorities from the Metropolitan Police Serviceâ€™s Counter-Terrorism Command within New Scotland Yard, whose efforts and assistance have been essential in the investigation of this matter.
This case is being pursued by a Task Force out of Connecticut consisting of law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigationâ€™s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Internal Revenue Serviceâ€™s Electronic Crimes Program; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri’s emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at COPmagazine@aol.com. Simply write “Free Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.