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Ex-sailor arrested in terrorism case

March 08, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A former Navy sailor was arrested Wednesday for allegedly releasing classified information that ended up in the hands of a suspected terrorism financier.

Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix is accused in a case that began in Connecticut and followed a suspected terrorist network across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.

He was arrested in Phoenix on charges of supporting terrorism with an intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.

Abujihaad, who is also known as Paul R. Hall, is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running websites to raise money for terrorism. Ahmad is scheduled to be extradited to the U.S. to face trial.

During a search of Ahmad's computers, investigators discovered files containing classified information about the positions of Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack.

Abujihaad, a former enlisted man, exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the guided-missile destroyer Benfold in 2000 and 2001, according to an affidavit released Wednesday.

He allegedly purchased videos promoting violent jihad, or holy war.

In those e-mails, Abujihaad discussed naval military briefings and praised those who attacked the destroyer Cole in 2000, according to the affidavit by FBI Agent David Dillon.

The documents retrieved from Ahmad showed drawings of Navy battle groups and discussed upcoming missions. They also said the battle group could be attacked using small weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades. The ships were never attacked.

Authorities discovered Abujihaad's military e-mail address among the computer files, and he had a security clearance that would have allowed him access to that material, according to the affidavit.

The investigation was run out of Connecticut because Ahmad allegedly used an Internet service provider there to host one of his fundraising websites. Kevin O'Connor, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, had no comment Wednesday night.

The case against Abujihaad apparently received a boost in December after the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford, Ill., near Chicago, who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall.

According to the affidavit, Shareef and Abujihaad lived together in 2004 when Ahmad was arrested.

After reading news reports of the case, Abujihaad became upset and said, "I think this is about me," Shareef told investigators.

Authorities then taped a phone conversation between Abujihaad and an informant in which Abujihaad sounded nervous. Though Abujihaad didn't say outright that he was involved in the leak of classified information, the affidavit provided enough evidence for an arrest warrant.

Abujihaad received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002, according to the affidavit.

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