CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Military officials have scheduled a hearing this week for a Marine accused of faking his own kidnapping in Iraq as well as failing to return to his base after visiting relatives in Utah.
A statement from Camp Lejeune on Tuesday said the hearing for Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is scheduled for Thursday. A Marine Corps spokesman says the results of the hearing will determine what action will be taken.
Hassoun disappeared twice from the military — first in June 2004 in a purported kidnapping by Islamic extremists, and in January 2005 when he failed to return to Camp Lejeune.
Hassoun turned himself in to military authorities in June and is in custody pending an investigation and decisions on the charges against him.
As was reported in July, Muslim who deserted Marine Corps back in U.S. custody:
It is unclear where Hassoun, 34, has spent the past nine years after disappearing during a visit with relatives in Utah in December 2004. Nor is it known why he chose to turn himself in now. He was born in Lebanon and is a naturalized American citizen.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps in January 2002 and was trained as a motor vehicle operator. At the time of his disappearance from a Marine camp in Fallujah in western Iraq in June 2004 he was serving as an Arabic translator. That was a particularly difficult year for the Marines in Iraq. In April they launched an offensive to retake Fallujah from Islamic extremists but were ordered to pull back, only to launch a second offensive in November that succeeded in regaining control of the city but at the expense of dozens of Marine lives.
Seven days after his June 2004 disappearance, a photo of a blindfolded Hassoun with a sword poised above his head turned up on Al-Jazeera television. A group called the National Islamic Resistance/1920 Revolution Brigade claimed to be holding him captive.
On July 8, 2004, Hassoun contacted American officials in Beirut, Lebanon, claiming to have been kidnapped. He was returned to the US and eventually to Camp Lejeune. After a Navy investigation, the military charged Hassoun with desertion, loss of government property, theft of a military firearm for allegedly leaving the Fallujah camp with a 9 mm service pistol, and theft of a Humvee.
Shortly after his return to the US, Hassoun said in a public statement that he had been captured by insurgents in Iraq and was still a loyal Marine.
In the initial months following his return to Lejeune, Hassoun was not held in confinement because charges had not yet been brought against him. He was considered non-deployable until the case was resolved, but he was allowed to make personal trips. Prior to his disappearance in December 2004 he had taken leave twice without incident after he returned from Lebanon.
A January 2005 hearing on the matter was canceled when Hassoun failed to return to Camp Lejeune from his Utah visit. His commanders then officially classified him as a deserter, authorizing civilian police to apprehend him.
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