Friday, April 6, 2007

Ex-USN 'Terror-Spy' Knew Derrick Shareef Before He Was A Detonator

Hassan Abujihaad, the former Navy sailor charged with passing classified information to suporters of terrorism, reportedly knew Derrick Shareef, whose name has been mentioned several times in these pages. The two apparently lived together in Phoenix in 2004.

Shareef was allegedly planning to use hand grenades to attack a suburban Chicago shopping mall on the Friday before Christmas, when his plans suddenly went very wrong.

His purported accomplice turned out to be an FBI informant, who had been feeding him ideas (attacking the mall, using grenades) and secretly recording Shareef's responses ("I'm down for it, man!"). The weapons dealer he had arranged to meet turned out to be FBI as well. And the four grenades he obtained -- in exchange for a pair of stereo speakers -- turned out to be duds.

In short, the whole affair has always had an unmistakeable air of fizzle to it. But now -- apparently -- his interrogation has led to a wanted terror-spy.

Hassan Abujihaad, who pleaded not guilty yesterday in Connecticut, was arrested in Phoenix on March 7th, thanks to information obtained from Shareef after his arrest in Illinois last December.

Authorities say Abujihaad, who was serving aboard the Navy destroyer USS Benfold in the spring of 2001, communicated via email with Babar Ahmad, a terrorist supporter in England who ran a company called Azzam Publications.

Babar Ahmad allegedly supported terrorism by setting up and maintaining extremist Islamic websites, such as that of the now-defunct Azzam Publications, through which Baber Ahmad reportedly met Hassan Abujihaad. Azzam Publications rented space from several companies, including one in Connecticut (which is why the legal proceedings are happening there).

According to a no-longer-available article by Michael P. Mayko of the Connecticut Post, Azzam Publications posted
Usama bin Laden's Declaration of War; an exclusive interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's second-in command; instructions on how to prepare for jihad training; what a woman could do to help jihad and how to deal with law enforcement. It also stressed the important of cash donations as well as those of gas masks and chemical-resistant suits.
Apparently all these things appealed to Hassan Abujihaad, who was formerly known as Paul R. Hall, but who changed his name when he converted to Islam. His chosen surname reportedly means "Father of the Holy War".

According to authorities, Hall a.k.a. Abujihaad a.k.a. Father of the Holy War used both his personal and his military email addresses in communications with Ahmad; purchased martyrdom videos and had at least one delivered to him aboard the ship; and later sent Ahmad classified information.

In the spring of 2001, the U.S.S. Benfold was part of a battlegroup heading for the Middle East, and Hall -- Abujihaad -- had access to certain plans. Specifically, he knew the group would pass through the Strait of Hormuz on April 29, 2001, at night and under a communications blackout.

Authorites allege that he shared this information with Ahmad. They claim he sent Ahmad email with the names of the ships in the group as well as classified details concerning how each ship was armed and on which ships important officers were traveling. And they also say he told Ahmad the group would be vulnerable to attackers in small craft using shoulder-launched missiles.

None of the information allegedly provided by Abujihaad resulted in an attack, but it did end up on a floppy disk belonging to Babar Assad, mastermind of Azzam Publications, which was seized in 2003.

Babar Ahmad was arrested in 2004. He and another English national, Syed Talha Ahsan, have already been indicted by the Connecticut grand jury and their extradition is said to be pending.

But Hassan Abujihaad, formerly Paul R. Hall, synonymously the Father of the Holy War, had been at large for six years after allegedly communicating with a known terrorist sympathizer, using a military email address, from aboard a Navy ship.

How did they ever catch up with him?
The affidavit in the case against Abujihaad says that Shareef was with Abujihaad in 2004 while Abujihaad was reading a Washington Post article about the arrest of the London terrorists and the leaked documents.

Although the Post story did not mention Abujihaad, he allegedly told Shareef “‘I think this is about me’ or ‘I think this article is talking about me,’” according to the affidavit.

“According to Shareef, upon realizing and stating that the article was about him, Abujihaad became visibly upset and emotional and began to cry.”

Shareef allegedly shared this story with authorities after his Dec. 6, 2006, arrest.
Remember, Assad was arrested in 2004; they've had his computer disks since 2003. There's incriminating email on those disks from a sailor named Hassan Abujihaad.

How many of those are there?

No, seriously: How many people are there in the entire world whose name means "Father of the Holy War"?

They couldn't go find him on their own?

According to reports from Phoenix, Hassan Abujihaad worked for UPS there, and people say they worked with Hassan and he didn't strike them as somebody who would give information to terrorists. Well maybe not, but that's not my point.

The fact that anyone at all has said "I worked with Hassan..." means that he was living as Hassan Abujihaad. In other words, he wasn't using the handle "Hassan Abujihaad" online while presenting himself to the world as Paul Hall (which might have made him quite a bit harder to find).

And even though the authorities have had this email since 2003, and even though we are in the midst of a great big ugly War on this great big ugly Terror thingy, this Global Jihad, it not only took the FBI more than three years to find a guy who had changed his name to Hassan Abu-jihaad, but they also had to be reminded of him and told where to look ...

And what did they find?
Abujihaad was discharged from the Navy in January 2002. When he learned in 2004 that Ahmad had been arrested in London, Abujihaad destroyed his holy war videos and tried to erase computer files that could link him to the London organization, prosecutors say.
So what did they do about it?
FBI agents secretly recorded Abujihaad saying that he had corresponded by e-mail with Azzam Publications in London and had e-mailed information on the Benfold's battle group.
Aha! No physical evidence? No problem!! Secret recordings to the rescue again!

... and all this on the stinkin' dumb blind luck of entrapping somebody who used to live with him??

It's almost enough to make a guy start believing in coincidence theories.


In related news: next to a sidebar proclaiming: "I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts", the "Tel-Chai Nation" blog ran the story of Abujihaad's indictment under the fact-free headline: Paul R. Hall convicted of conspiracy to commit murder

That's "convicted", as in I-N-D-I-C-T-E-D. Unbelievable.

In other related news, the notion of a spy in the Navy caused former FBI deputy director William Gavin to recall a previous Naval spying case. His comment to that effect, "I have visions of the Jonathan Pollard case," drew howls of "anti-Semitism" from ... [wait for it] ... Jonathan Pollard himself. According to the Florida Jewish News,
Pollard, a former Navy analyst, is serving a life sentence for passing secrets to Israel [...] "I have warned for the last 22 years that this organization, the FBI, is extremely anti-Semitic," Pollard said, in remarks posted on his website, "Apart from being anti-Israel, they (sic) are extremely anti-Semitic."
For his part,
Gavin denied drawing any comparison between Pollard and Abujihaad beyond the fact that both were working for the U.S. Navy when they were arrested. "That was the analogy made - both were Navy employees," he told The Jewish Star, "and one was proven to have committed a crime and one was alleged to have committed a crime."
Gavin’s comment was "careless," at best, according to Rabbi Pesach Lerner of Far Rockaway, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.

Lerner follows Pollard’s case closely, and visits him regularly at the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. "If his only comparison was that they both worked for the Navy, it was a very careless quote, in context or out," he said, "Someone who was in the position that he was in should have known better, and should know the difference between an ally and an enemy."
Perhaps we do know the difference, all of us except perhaps Rabbi Lerner. Perhaps we all know the difference.

Even More Unbelievable.


[ sources ]

March 7, 2007: ABC News: Former Navy Sailor Charged With Passing Secrets To Al Qaeda
March 7, 2007: USA TODAY: Former Navy sailor arrested on terror charge
March 8, 2007: Washington Post: Former Sailor Accused of Providing Data to Terrorist Web Site
March 8, 2007: AP via Military dot Com: Former Sailor Arrested on Terror Charge
March 8, 2007: LA Times: Ex-sailor arrested in terrorism case
March 8, 2007: WTOP, Washington DC: Former Sailor Arrested on Terror Charges
March 8, 2007: KTAR, Phoenix: View the Documents Hassan Abujihaad Transmitted to Terrorists
March 8, 2007: KTAR, Phoenix: Abujihaad Worked for UPS in Phoenix
March 8, 2007: KTAR, Phoenix: View the Documents Hassan Abujihaad Transmitted to Terrorists
March 9, 2007: Arizona Republic via Army Times: Ex-sailor arrested in terror conspiracy
March 10, 2007: Rockford Register Star: Terror-plot suspect may aid in case of leaked info
March 16, 2007: Florida Jewish News: Pollard: FBI poses ‘clear and present danger’ to Jews
March 21, 2007: FOX: Former Navy Sailor Indicted for Supporting Terrorists by E-Mailing Military Secrets
March 22, 2007: The Guardian: Ex-Sailor Indicted on Terror Charges
March 22, 2007: PR Inside: Former Member of the U.S. Navy Indicted on Terrorism and Espionage Charges
March 22, 2007: Alaska Report: Former sailor indicted on terrorism charges
March 23, 2007: Canadian Press: Fmr U.S. sailor charged with espionage {Read the indictment (PDF)| Read the FBI's case (PDF)| See the evidence (PDF)}
March 23, 2007: International Herald Tribune: Judge orders terror suspect held without bond
March 23, 2007: The Guardian: No Bail for Terror Suspect, Ex-Navy Man
March 23, 2007: KVOA, Tucson: Friend says former sailor unhappy with U-S foreign policy
March 23, 2007: Jerusalem Post: 'Former US sailor assisted terrorists'
March 24, 2007: Hartford Courant: Terror Suspect Appears In Court
March 24, 2007: National Ledger: Former US Sailor Charged with Terrorism and Espionage
March 27, 2007: New York Jewish Times: Former Member of the U.S. Navy Indicted on Terrorism and Espionage Charges
April 5, 2007: Hartford Courant: Terror Allegations Denied