WASHINGTON – A former Navy sailor was arrested Wednesday for allegedly e-mailing military secrets — including detailed information on Navy battle groups and their missions — to a suspected terrorism financier that were later posted on Web sites used to raise funds for Al Qaeda.
Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix, is accused in a case that began in Connecticut and followed a suspected terrorist network across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.
He was arrested in Phoenix on charges of supporting terrorism with an intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.
Abujihaad, who is also known as Paul R. Hall, is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in 2004 and accused of running Web sites to raise money for terrorism. Ahmad is scheduled to be extradited to the U.S. to face trial.
During a search of Ahmad's computers, investigators discovered files containing classified information about the positions of U.S. Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack.
Abujihaad, a former enlisted man, exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 and 2001, according to an affidavit released Wednesday. He allegedly purchased videos promoting violent jihad, or holy war.
In those e-mails, Abujihaad discussed naval military briefings and praised those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000, according to the affidavit by FBI Agent David Dillon.
The documents retrieved from Ahmad show drawings of Navy battle groups and discuss upcoming missions. They also say the battle group could be attacked using small weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades. The ships were never attacked.
Authorities discovered Abujihaad's military e-mail address among the computer files, and he had a secret security clearance that would have allowed him access to that material, according to the affidavit.
The investigation was run out of Connecticut because Ahmad allegedly used an Internet service provider there to host one of his fundraising Web sites. Kevin O'Connor, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, had no comment Wednesday night.
Ahmad was arrested in 2004 but the case against Abujihaad apparently received a boost in December following the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, of Genoa, Ill., near Chicago, who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall.
According to the affidavit, Shareef and Abujihaad lived together in 2004 when Ahmad was arrested. After reading news reports of the case, Abujihaad became upset and said, "I think this is about me," Shareef told investigators.
Authorities then taped a phone conversation between Abujihaad and an informant in which Abujihaad appeared nervous. Though Abujihaad didn't say outright that he was involved in the leak of classified information, the affidavit provided enough evidence for an arrest warrant.
Abujihaad received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002, according to the affidavit.
There was no answer at the Phoenix apartment where Abujihaad lives Wednesday night and neighbors did not seem to know him. Court records to not say when he will be sent to New Haven, Conn., for arraignment in federal court.