Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was charged twice for desertion, the first when he allegedly staged his kidnapping by terrorists, the second when he fled U.S. custody in January 2005.
Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun turned himself in last year.
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Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was an unhappy Marine.
At his base in Fallouja, Iraq, in 2004, he complained about an extended deployment and refused to perform certain duties, according to fellow Marines. He longed to be with the Lebanese woman — his cousin — he’d wed in an arranged marriage.
A military prosecutor said Hassoun, a native of Lebanon and a naturalized U.S. citizen, warned his comrades: “I’ll leave and go to Lebanon. I’m not kidding.”
Hassoun indeed wound up in Lebanon in June 2004, the first step on a decade-long odyssey that reached a climax at a court-martial here on charges that he twice deserted his unit. He sat placidly in the dock as prosecutors dissected his actions spanning 10 years and two continents…
A prosecutor described Hassoun as “torn between two cultures: the Marine Corps and his upbringing as a Sunni Arab.”
Hassoun’s family was so opposed to the war in Iraq, prosecutors said, that he never told them he had deployed there. The defense, meanwhile, said the family’s home and business in Lebanon were attacked after Hassoun’s Marine service was revealed.
From the day he disappeared in Fallouja, the government says, Hassoun lived a picaresque existence. It included a marriage ceremony performed over the phone, work as a bodyguard for a Lebanese politician, appearance in a hostage video with a sword over his head…
Prosecutors said Hassoun made elaborate preparations to abandon his post in 2004. He burned some possessions. He asked an Iraqi interpreter whether he could hide in his house. He packed a civilian backpack with a map and an Iraqi dialect book, dressed in civilian clothes and slipped out a remote, unmanned exit gate, prosecutors said.
Days later, Hassoun emerged in the purported kidnapping video. But he soon showed up unharmed at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and was returned to the U.S. for an investigation.
At Camp Lejeune, he was charged in December 2004 with desertion. Inexplicably, as Hassoun was awaiting a court hearing, he was granted a Christmas holiday leave to visit his parents and brothers in Utah.
In court Friday, Hassoun took the stand and admitted that during his leave he fled to Lebanon via Canada.
Cpl. Hassoun staged his own kidnapping when he disappeared from Fallujah in 2004.
Michelle Malkin has more on this man’s strange odyssey.