Marine's appeal denied
Reservist had applied for conscientious objector status
Sunday, September 11, 2005
By ANDY KRAVETZ of the Journal Star

PEORIA - A federal appellate court in Chicago has denied the appeal of a Peoria-based Marine reservist who applied for conscientious objector status.

In their 12-page opinion, handed down Sept. 1, the three justices from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Marine Corps' decision that Lance Cpl. Rasheed Alhassan was not entitled to conscientious objector status.

Alhassan had enlisted in the reserves in June 2002 and was later assigned to Company C, 6th Engineering Support Battalion, based near Bellevue. When the unit learned it was to go to Iraq in January 2003, he went with the company to California for more training, but after two weeks he indicated he was a conscientious objector, court records indicate.

The Marines denied that, saying it appeared Alhassan had a change of heart as his unit drew closer to leaving for Iraq. Alhassan denied that, saying he had a religious experience, court records indicate.

He then filed suit in U.S. District Court in Peoria in April 2004, shortly before the unit was to go to Iraq again, but was denied again by a federal judge here last year.

In making their decision, the justices focused on the fact that Alhassan never told anyone about his objections to war, not even his family or his girlfriend. Also, the panel noted Alhassan had volunteered for the service.

"Alhassan volunteered, of his own free will, to serve in the Marine Corps. Before enlisting, he signed a document stating that he had no '"firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or to the bearing of arms because of religious belief or training,"' the justices wrote.

Capt. John Douglass of the Peoria County reserve unit said Alhassan, who did not go on either of the unit's deployments, is still a member of "Charlie Company."