Former Member of the U.S. Navy Indicted
on Terrorism and Espionage
Connecticut (FBI) — A federal grand jury sitting in
Bridgeport, Connecticut, has returned a two-count indictment
charging Hassan Abujihaad, formerly known as Paul R. Hall,
age 31, of Phoenix, Ariz., with material support of terrorism
and disclosing previously classified information relating to
the national defense, announced Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S.
Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
which was returned earlier, alleges that Abujihaad provided
material support or resources, knowing or intending that they
were to be used in preparation for, or in carrying out, a conspiracy
to kill U.S. nationals and that he delivered, communicated,
transmitted or caused the delivery, communication or transmission
of previously classified information relating to the national
defense to persons not entitled to receive it.
was arrested in Phoenix on March 7, 2007, on a federal criminal
complaint from the District of Connecticut that alleges similar
charges. On that date, Abujihaad appeared before U.S. Magistrate
Judge Lawrence O. Anderson in Phoenix and agreed to a temporary
order of detention and to be removed to the District of Connecticut
for further prosecution. Abujihaad is being transported to
the District of Connecticut by the U.S. Marshals Service, and
he is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly
B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport.
to information previously disclosed in court, from approximately
1997 through at least August 2004, British nationals Babar
Ahmad, Syed Talha Ahsan, and others, through an organization
based in London called Azzam Publications, are alleged to have
conspired to provide material support and resources to persons
engaged in acts of terrorism through the creation and use of
various Internet Web sites, e-mail communications, and other
means. One of the means Ahmad and his co-conspirators are alleged
to have used in this effort was the management of various Azzam
which, along with associated administrative email accounts,
were hosted for a period of time on the servers of a Web hosting
company located in the state of Connecticut.
December 2003 search of Ahmad’s residence in London,
British law enforcement officers recovered a computer floppy
disk that contained a password-protected document that set
forth previously classified information regarding the movements
of a U.S. Navy battle group that was charged with enforcing
sanctions against the Taliban and engaging in missions against
Al Qaeda. The information included details on the battle group’s
movements as it was to transit from California to the Gulf
region in the spring of 2001. The document went on to discuss
the battle group’s perceived vulnerability to terrorist
attack. Additional investigation and computer forensic analysis
later determined that Syed Talha Ahsan allegedly possessed,
accessed, modified and re-saved the electronic battle group
file before it was found in Ahmad’s possession.
Ahsan were previously indicted in the District of Connecticut
in the now-pending terrorism cases of United States v. Babar
Ahmad, and United States v. Syed Talha Ahsan, and their extradition
from the United Kingdom to Connecticut to face the charges
to documents previously filed with the court, it is alleged
that, in 2001, Abujihaad provided the battle group information
to Azzam Publications. Specifically, the affidavit filed in
support of the criminal complaint alleges that search warrants
executed upon the various email accounts associated with the
Azzam Web sites recovered several email exchanges from late
2000 to late 2001 between members of Azzam Publications and
Abujihaad while he was an enlistee in the U.S. Navy on active
duty in the Middle East and stationed aboard the U.S.S. Benfold,
one of the ships in the battle group whose movements were disclosed.
emails between Abujihaad and Azzam Publications included discussions
regarding videos Abujihaad ordered from Azzam Publications
that promoted violent jihad, a small donation of money Abujihaad
made to Azzam Publications, and whether it was “safe” to
send materials to Abujihaad at his military address onboard
the U.S.S. Benfold. The criminal complaint further alleges
that, during another email exchange with Azzam Publications,
Abujihaad described a recent force protection briefing given
aboard his ship, voiced enmity toward America, praised Usama
bin Laden and the mujahideen, praised the October 2000 attack
on the U.S.S. Cole – which Abujihaad described as a “martyrdom
operation” – and advised the members of Azzam Publications
that such tactics were working and taking their toll. The email
response from Azzam Publications encouraged Abujihaad to “keep
up … the psychological warefare [sic].” A copy of the
battle group document and certain email communications between
Abujihaad and Azzam Publications were attached as exhibits
to the criminal complaint.
complaint further alleges that, during the searches executed
on the email accounts that were associated with administering
the Azzam Web sites, Abujihaad’s contact information – specifically,
his military email account – was found in the possession
of the members of Azzam Publications.
further alleges that, in 2004, when Abujihaad learned the news
of Babar Ahmad’s arrest and the allegations that Ahmad
possessed the battle group file, Abujihaad destroyed certain
Azzam Publications videos and deleted certain computer files
that reflected material from the Azzam Publications sites while
at his home in Phoenix, Ariz.
further alleges that, in December 2006, during consensual recorded
conversations, Abujihaad, while negotiating the purchase of
two AR-15 assault rifles for approximately $1300, admitted
to corresponding by email with members of Azzam Publications
through their Web sites, admitted to sending the email discussing
the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and admitted to destroying Azzam-related
materials in 2004.
January 2002, before the alleged conduct was discovered, Abujihaad
was discharged from active duty from the U.S. Navy.
of both charges, Abujihaad faces a maximum term of imprisonment
of 25 years.
O’Connor stressed that the indictment is only a charge
and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair
trial in which it is the government’s burden to prove
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
O’Connor commended the substantial efforts and cooperation
of the several federal law enforcement agencies involved in
the investigation, including the U.S. Attorney’s Offices
in Phoenix and Chicago; the FBI Offices in New Haven, Phoenix
and Chicago; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”); and the Naval
Criminal Investigative Service. U.S. Attorney O’Connor
also praised the substantial efforts of law enforcement authorities
from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter-Terrorism
Command within New Scotland Yard, whose efforts and assistance
have been essential in the investigation of this matter.
is being pursued by a task force out of Connecticut consisting
of law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland
Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force,
the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation
Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the
Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
is being prosecuted by a team of federal prosecutors including
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen Reynolds and William Nardini
from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut,
Trial Attorney Andrew Levchuk from the Computer Crimes and
Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice
in Washington, and Trial Attorney Alexis Collins from the Counter-Terrorism
Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National
Security Division in Washington. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike
Morrissey of the District of Arizona has also provided valuable
assistance to the prosecution team.