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09-24-03, 07:14 AM #1
U.S. airman charged with espionage
At least three others may be part of probe at Guantanamo Bay
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — An Air Force airman has been arrested and accused of spying for Syrian interests while working at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists in Cuba, part of what Defense Department officials told NBC News on Tuesday was a wider investigation involving at least three other people.
THE INVESTIGATION came to light Tuesday after Pentagon officials said the man, later identified as Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi, 24, of Detroit, was being held for investigation of possible misuse of classified information.
After an NBC News report revealed an investigation into what U.S. officials said could be a “widespread conspiracy,” the Pentagon named al-Halabi, saying he had been formally charged on 32 counts sometime after he was arrested in July.
In addition to al-Halabi, military officials told NBC News that other potential suspects included a member of the Army, a member of the Navy and a Marine Corps contractor. Intelligence officials said all four were Muslims.
Al-Halabi, who worked as a translator for military interrogators questioning al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners at the prison camp, was charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order and nine counts of making a false official statement, the Pentagon said. He was being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
SPYING FOR SYRIANS ALLEGED
Al-Halabi was arrested July 23 at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was en route to Syria, officials told NBC News. The next day, military authorities flew him to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., before he was transferred to Vandenberg.
The 10-page indictment accuses al-Halabi of sending intelligence, names and serial numbers of detainees by e-mail to a known enemy. He was carrying a laptop computer with 180 electronic notes to be delivered to Syria, it claims.
• Profiles of suspects; leads being followed
The indictment also alleges that al-Halabi carried two handwritten notes from detainees at Guantanamo Bay with details of U.S. intelligence-gathering and planning for the U.S. war on terror. Specifically, it says, he was carrying classified information on the interrogation of detainees, details of military flights into and out of Guantanamo Bay and detailed maps of the U.S. military installation there.
It was not clear whether prosecutors believed the classified information was destined for the government of Syria or for individuals there working independently of the government, which the United States has declared a state sponsor of terrorism.
The Air Force has already conducted an Article 32 proceeding, the military equivalent of a pretrial hearing. Maj. Gen. John D. Becker, al-Halabi’s commanding officer at Travis AFB, where he was assigned to a logistics unit, will determine whether he should face a court-martial. Some of the charges carry the death penalty.
About 660 suspected al-Qaida or Taliban members are imprisoned at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay. U.S. officials are interrogating them for information on the terrorist network.
The military has classified many details about the prison camp and the detainees and has not identified any of the men being held there. Military officials have said the fight against terrorism could be hampered if terrorist groups got such information.
SEPARATE FROM CHAPLAIN’S CASE
Army Capt. James Yee, 35, a Muslim Army chaplain who ministered to inmates at Guantanamo Bay, is also being held after he was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville after getting off a flight from Guantanamo Bay carrying classified documents, law enforcement officials said.
Pentagon officials told NBC News there was no evidence to suggest that al-Halabi was connected to Yee, whose case appeared to be a separate investigation that officials said was still under way.
Yee, who is of Chinese descent and reportedly grew up in New Jersey, converted to Islam from Christianity in 1991 after his studies at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He left the Army for Syria, where he received religious training. He returned to the U.S. military soon after.
Steve Lucas, a spokesman at the U.S. military’s Southern Command headquarters in Miami, told Reuters that the military had 120 days to complete an investigation and determine whether Yee might face formal charges and a possible military court-martial.
When asked during a January interview with NBC News why he converted to Islam, Yee instead spoke of Islam’s diversity.
“One of the strengths of our culture is diversity,” Yee said.
“A lot of people don’t know Jesus is part of Islam, but Muslims believe he was a prophet,” Yee said. “Surely people can be more open-minded.”
Yee is married. Before Guantanamo, he was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash.
Since the detention mission began, Guantanamo has had at least three Muslim chaplains, the first being Navy Lt. Abuhena Saif-ul-Islam, who in 1999 became the Marines’ first Muslim chaplain.
09-24-03, 02:47 PM #2
What is this country thinking by trusting these SOB's in the first place, did they learn from the prior Bull ****, when that Army Sgt Fraged his buddies. These people should not be imprisoned they should be tortured. We have to set an example!
09-25-03, 01:56 AM #3
"Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves request permission to come aboard!" We won't take much (honest).:bandit:
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