Surprise, surprise. Wassef Ali Hassoun, the Lebanon-born Muslim Marine who claimed to have been kidnapped and then was charged with desertion, has disappeared again. From FOX News:
Hassoun had been on leave with his family in West Jordan, Utah, when he was scheduled to return to Camp Lejeune (search), N.C., on Tuesday, military officials told FOX News. As of 3 p.m. EST, Hassoun’s command “officially declared him a deserter and issued authorization for civil authorities to apprehend Hassoun and return him to military control,” a military statement said.
Sources told FOX News Hassoun had been allowed to go on leave to visit his family for New Year’s. He was due back at noon on Tuesday.
But Hassoun’s brother said the family did not know his whereabouts, and had not heard from him since Dec. 28, when they took him to the Salt Lake City airport for a flight to North Carolina.
Mazen Hassoun said his family was trying to reach military officials to confirm Wassef Hassoun’s status.
Massoun had already been charged by the U.S. Marine Corps in December with unauthorized leave following a five-month probe into his June 2004 disappearance from a U.S. military camp in Iraq.
The 24-year-old Utah resident went missing on June 20 from his base in Fallujah. A few days later a videotape of him blindfolded and with a sword hanging over his head aired on Arab television, prompting fears he had been taken hostage by terrorists.
A group claiming they took Hassoun later said he had been killed after being lured from the base by a love affair.
But in a bizarre twist, Hassoun turned up unharmed on July 8 at the U.S. Embassy in his native Lebanon. He claimed he had been captured by anti-American forces, but it was unclear how he had gotten to Beirut from Fallujah.
“I did not desert my post,” Hassoun told reporters in July after returning to the United States. “I was captured and held against my will by anti-coalition forces for 19 days. This was a very difficult and challenging time for me.”
Hassoun, who had been working in Iraq as an Arabic translator, repeatedly denied he had deserted. “I would like to tell all the Marines as well as all those others serving in Iraq to keep their heads up and spirits high. Once a Marine, always a Marine, Semper Fi,” Hassoun said, invoking the Marine Corps motto, Latin for “always faithful.”
I would take everything the family says with a grain of salt. Hassoun’s relatives apologized to fellow Arabs and issued a statement “saying he was forced to go to the United States and join the Marines because of the deteriorating economic situation caused by Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.”
Hassoun’s neighbors in West Jordan, Utah are rightly disgusted. AP reports:
One neighbor, Cheree White, whose husband’s 30-year military career included 15 as a Marine, said Hassoun was ”using the country.”
”If you love your country, you don’t do that,” said White, who has four sons actively serving in the military.
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