September 08, 2004

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun Returns to his unit

File under: eating crow. When it was first revealed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was abducted I was among a number of notable bloggers (I'm also looking at you Spoons) who said there was something fishy about this. I publicly apologize for casting dispersions on Cpl Hassoun's version of the story. I was completely wrong. I should not have jumped to any conclusions. I was way out of line. I also admit that his ethnicity as an Arab probably did cloud my judgement. Again, I am sorry. Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun deserves better than this. It looks like the worst he might have done was leave the base without permission, but probably to visit a girl he had met. He is not being accused of dessertion or treason. I am sorry for doubting your story. Thank you Cpl. Hassoun for your service.

UPDATE: Spoons responds.


Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun has returned to his unit in North Carolina, although his mysterious abduction by Islamic militants in Iraq has yet to be publicly explained.

Hassoun, 24, initially was accused of deserting, but after his hostage video aired on Arab satellite TV, his status was changed to "captured."

Marine Corps officials are "all over the map" over whether they believe Hassoun's story that he escaped execution, said one military source close to the case. He said there is a lingering suspicion that the videotaped threats to behead Hassoun were an elaborate hoax.

The skeptics wonder how he got from Iraq to his native Lebanon 500 miles away - where his wife lives - without a scratch.

The Muslim Marine spent all of August on leave with his family in Salt Lake City before rejoining the antiterrorist 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Aug. 30, officials said.

Hassoun is expected soon to be declared fit for duty, the military source said.

But he still could face desertion charges as the probe continues into how he was kidnapped from a secure base in Iraq and whether he was ever in captivity, sources said.

Though Hassoun was debriefed about his ordeal after returning stateside, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has yet to interview him, leaving his case in limbo, sources said.

"He's frustrated that it's still out there," said the military source. "But he realizes there's a process that needs to take its course."

The Marines are being careful with Hassoun's case.

"Some of the early statements about Hassoun deserting probably went too far," the military source said. "We don't want to make this guy into a Chaplain Yee."

Capt. James Yee, the Muslim chaplain for the terror prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was accused of espionage last year but later cleared in a major embarrassment for the military.

Hassoun was reported missing on June 19 and presumed a deserter by the Marines, but he was shown days later on Arab TV as a blindfolded hostage with a sword dangling over his head.

On July 8, Hassoun popped up safe at the American Embassy in Beirut.

Hassoun, a veteran of the major combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom, denied he ran away.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:07 PM | Comments |