INDIANAPOLIS – A federal grand jury has indicted an Indiana man on charges he tried to sell names of U.S. intelligence operatives in Iraq to Saddam Hussein's (search) government before the U.S. invasion.
Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban (search), 52, was charged with agreeing to act as a foreign agent for Iraq and with immigration violations, federal prosecutors said Thursday following Shaaban's arrest.
Shaaban traveled in late 2002 from Chicago to Baghdad, where he agreed to sell the names of U.S. intelligence agents to Saddam's government for $3 million, said Susan Brooks (search), the U.S. attorney for southern Indiana. The Iraqi government paid for the trip, the indictment alleges.
"The deal was never consummated," Brooks said.
Shaaban sought the names from foreign sources, but investigators believe he never obtained them, Brooks said. Investigators believe Shaaban acted alone.
The U.S. severed all diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1990 and U.S. citizens were not permitted to travel to Iraq or do business there without registering as foreign agents — which Shaaban had not done, Brooks said.
Brooks said she could not discuss what sparked the federal investigation of Shaaban, a resident of Greenfield, which is about 20 miles east of Indianapolis.
The federal indictment unsealed Thursday also alleges Shaaban sought to broadcast pro-Iraqi propaganda in the United States and offered to pay Iraqis who agreed to act as "human shields" to protect infrastructure from coalition forces, Brooks said.
Authorities believe that Shaaban is originally from Jordan and became a U.S. citizen illegally in 2000 when he used the alias Shaaban Hafed on his naturalization application. If convicted of that charge, he most likely will be deported, Brooks said.
An initial hearing was held Thursday in Indianapolis federal court, where his trial was tentatively set for April 25. Shaaban is being held pending a detention hearing March 9.
Bill Dazey, the federal defense attorney representing Shaaban, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.