A federal judge Thursday denied a defense attorney's motion to release a man charged with supporting terrorists by disclosing secret information about the locations of U.S. Navy ships and the best ways to attack them.In addition to recapping what we already knew of this case, Randall Beach adds a few surprising details, including this admission of weakness from the prosecution:
Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix, formerly known as Paul Hall, must remain incarcerated in Connecticut and await trial as a result of U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz's ruling.
[Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen] Reynolds did say there is "no forensic footprint connecting Mr. Abujihaad to the battlegroup document" found on a floppy disk at the home of one of the alleged terrorists in London.No forensic footprint? What does this mean?
A few months ago, when setting up the arrest and the indictment, the feds made it seem like a slam-dunk. Now they tell us there's no forensic footprint linking the suspect to the documents in question?
Not that any of this will matter; as we have seen over and over, the courts are reluctant to buck the anti-terrorists -- ever, anywhere. Some of the weakest, strangest cases have led to convictions and long prison sentences. We're even seeing cases based on no evidence of anything -- except entrapment by undercover FBI agents -- leading to convictions and long sentences.
And suddenly last month's article by George Smith in Britain's The Register -- which seemed very strange at the time -- cuts a lot more ice with me than it did when I first read it:
Loose mouth and loose change - $5 tip leads to terror finance rapA mangy cat whose adopted name means "Father of the Holy War"?
In the terror case against Hassan Abujihaad, formerly known as Paul R. Hall - sailor on the destroyer Benfold, the US government has another mangy cat in the GWOT.
"Material support of terrorism and disclosing previously classified information" are the beefs in the indictment against Abujihaad, according to a government press release from March. It sounds serious and the newsmedia did its usual listless job in reporting on it.Nobody else seemed to notice that the circumstances leading to the arrest of Hassan Abujihaad were very peculiar.
"Hassan Abujihaad, 31, is accused of supporting terrorism by disclosing secret information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them," wrote Associated Press. "Investigators say he provided those secrets, in classified documents, to a suspected terrorism financier."Evidence of the crime?
If one looks at the indictment and evidentiary exhibits logged against Abujihaad, it's thinner cloth.
Abujihaad bought videos from Azzam Publications and Babar Ahmad, a London computer programmer locked up since 2004 and awaiting extradition for trial to the US, for running a website that promoted Islamic fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, according to the press.
As for sending classified documents to Ahmad [more here], what Abujihaad did do, and we'll get to it in detail in a bit, is send rash e-mail, including video orders from the [U.S.S.] Benfold, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer upon which he served.
Among these communications was one in which Abujihaad generally addressed the time of the movement of the Benfold's surface action group through the Strait of Hormuz. This was sensitive information, says the government and it is reasonable to believe it. In the e-mail, he also described a very general vulnerability of an asset in the group. In the government indictment, prosecutors misrepresent it slightly in attempting to polish the case against him.
Abujihaad's primary sin is extremely poor judgment. He corresponded with Babar Ahmad, a man the US government has been trying to get to trial in this country very badly. Abujihaad also called the government of the United States "scary pussies" in mail to Ahmad. Once this was recovered from a diskette in Ahmad's possession in London in 2004, its inflammatory content insured lawmen would pursue Abujihaad.
It appears from the indictment the US has been nursing the case for years. Assuredly, as soon as Abujihaad's e-mails were uncovered in London in 2004, it knew where he was. At that point, what appears to have transpired was the recruitment of a snitch to get close. The objective - to determine if there was a terror plot.
Apparently, no plot. Abujihaad received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002 and wound up in Arizona, perhaps an unhappy young man, eventually acutely aware that he might be in trouble for his e-mails to Azzam.
However, when the US government argues that Abujihaad gave material assistance to Ahmad, one expects not to see the equivalent of mail order of three videos reclassified as terrorist activity. Yet this is exactly what is meant.
In recovered e-mail in 2001, prior to 9/11, Abujihaad writes: "I'm wondering did you guise [sic] receive my two separate orders [sic] the first one was Russian Hell 2000. I ordered Chechnya From the Ashes at a later date. If you have any info please e-mail back."It is extremely dubious that Hassan Abujihaad is being prosecuted for watching the videos; he did after all have one of the videos delivered to him aboard the ship. The more serious matter -- the aspect of the case which has had people clamoring for Abujihaad's head on a platter! -- concerns advance knowledge of ship movements and vulnerabilities to attack. According to the authorities, they found indications that Abujihaad had transmitted such information to Ahmad, directly endangering his entire battle group.
In July of that year, now writing from the Benfold, Abujihaad thanks Ahmad for the quality of the jihad videos, although apparently Azzam Publications had sent him a different title than requested. "It is my first time viewing my first CD, Russian Hell Pt. 2 ... I thought it was Russian Hell 2000 Pt. 1." Abujihaad gives the port mail address for his ship, requests the title he doesn't have, Russian Hell 2000 Pt. 1, and writes, "Keep up the great work [sic] it is very well appreciated."
In August, Abujihaad sends Ahmad thirty dollars for another video, Bosnian War.
In this order, he has overspent by five dollars. Ahmad writes "Please tell us what you want done with the remaining $5."
"Dear Brothers, you guys can keep the remaining $5.00 and [add it] to the funds that you Brothers are spending in the way of Allah and the great Websites .. Azzam Pub."
Material assistance to terror groups is, you read right, ordering three videos, overpaying slightly and telling the seller to keep the change. "By stating that he watched the video, [Abujihaad] demonstrated that he knew Azzam supported acts of terrorism." Hmmm, maybe, but logically it seem to indicate many people not normally considered terrorists must now be included in the definition, too.
As George Smith sees it,
The more serious matter is Abujihaad telling Ahmad when the Benfold's surface action group was transiting the Strait of Hormuz prior to Iraqi Freedom. He writes Azzam, informing his battle group is "to hold up [UN] sanctions against Iraq ... There is the possibility that [the group] will carry out a strike against Afghanistan: Main targets: Usama [Osama bin Laden] and the Mujahideen, Taliban, etc ... The [battle group] will be going through the straits of Hormuz on April 29, 2001 at night."Can this be right? There's a possibility of a 25-year sentence over a five-dollar tip?
The serviceman then includes some general information, which may appear sensitive to laymen, on his ship group. However, the same can be found in many open source public information websites on the US military.
The serviceman then includes some general information, which may appear sensitive to laymen, on his ship group. However, the same can be found in many open source public information websites on the US military. In the affidavit, the prosecution draws attention to the statement, "Weakness: They have nothing to stop a small craft with RPG etc except their Seals' Stinger missiles." In the complaint, it's presented slightly out of context, seeming to indicate Abujihaad is revealing something secret, like how to attack the battlegroup's large ships. Actually, he's indicating SEALs in boarding party boats don't have big heavy weapons, which constitutes more functional open source information, no matter the context.
Throughout the indictment and affidavit materials, there is nothing except indication that Abujihaad's basically a grumbling serviceman, impolitic and without common sense, as well as a buyer of video tapes on the wars in Chechnya and Bosnia.His prospects aren't helped by some of the other details in the new article from Randall Beach:
Apparently, the case languished but was not forgotten until sometime last year when the government began to think it had a more compelling story to tell.
Homeland Security and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force have a network of informants, one of whom was able to get a Chicago man, Derrick Shareef, entangled in a terror sting by volunteering to sell him hand grenades for throwing into a shopping mall. When Shareef tried to buy the grenades, he was arrested. Subsequent interrogation revealed Shareef and Abujihaad had, in the past, been acquaintances. At this point, investigators instruct the informant to contact Abujihaad with news about Shareef so the FBI can record the conversations.
Abujihaad, understandably, freaks out. At this point he knows the government is near. And on March 7 he was arrested.
It is a tale, and a bit of a sad one, in which someone which the book against, so far, does not show any serious involvement in terrorism. It is the story of a man who ordered videos and had loose lips when he should have kept his virtual mouth shut, a case of extraordinarily bad timing just prior to 9/11.
But since there is no shortage of experts who can be called upon by the government to insist, true or not, that Azzam Publications was allied with al Qaeda for the courts, Abujihaad's fate looks grim.
In addition to "troubling" activities and mission of Azzam Publications, Reynolds said, government wiretaps of Abujihaad's phone conversations disclosed he praised jihad and its violent methods.This last bit is very bizarre.
Reynolds said another wiretap showed Abujihaad threatening to kill his ex-wife after she threatened to "spit out" to authorities what she knew about his alleged activities. He also cited a wiretap in which Abujihaad spoke with a government informant about buying assault weapons.
Reynolds also mentioned a wiretap showing Abujihaad recommended a violent jihad article to Derrick Shareef, who three days later bought weapons, allegedly to attack Christmas shoppers at a mall in suburban Chicago. Shareef was arrested before he could carry out the alleged plan.
It has previously been reported that Abujihaad and Shareef knew each other (and may have lived together) in 2004, but this is the first time -- to my knowledge -- that the anyone has floated the notion that they were in contact as recently as three days before Shareef's arrest -- or that Abujihaad had anything at all to do with Shareef's alleged plot.
It's always interesting watching alleged plots grow and intertwine.
The so-called "fertilizer bombers" plot in England is a good example. Seven men were on trial for a year and eventually five of them were convicted of planning to detonate a fertilizer-and-aluminum bomb, in an attack that was said to be "imminent" even though the prosecution admitted they had never decided on a target. The trial was conducted almost entirely in secret -- made necessary after two of the suspects implicated the supposedly allied Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, in their testimony, and there was never any open discussion about other targets, other weapons, or other means of attack -- until recent reports claiming the fertilizer bombers were planning to several major targets simultaneously, using multiple fertilizer bombs, an airplane, and a nuclear device, in a wave of attacks which would make 9/11 look like child's play.
So it won't be surprising to see reports beginning next month or so, about Derrick Shareef and Hassan Abujihaad and their cell of vicious terrorists, and all the terrible things they were allegedly plotting to do. The garbage cans will vanish first, of course, and eventually the nonfunctional grenades will, too. And you won't hear much about a $5 tip or a videotape that was delivered to a sailor aboard a US Navy ship. But oh! the hatred! Oh! the horrible things they were plotting to do!! And oh! the horrible web that weaves them all together!!
Just you wait!!
OOPS! You may not have to wait any longer. And it may seem like a bit of a stretch to go from plotting to detonate hand grenades in garbage cans in a shopping mall to plotting to "blow up a local shopping mall", but World Net Daily has no such trouble -- nor do they have any trouble tying both Shareef and Abujihaad to a larger group of "Blacks recruited for terror by al-Q'aeda".
So it turns out I was not clairvoyant after all.
Still, enormous lies persist. And I can't help but think that winning the War on Terror would be difficult enough if we were being told the truth about everything. With all the lying that goes on, no wonder it seems impossible!