NEW HAVEN, Connecticut – A former U.S. Navy sailor arrested two weeks ago on terrorism charges was indicted Wednesday, accused of providing material support to terrorists with intent to kill U.S. citizens and disclosing classified information relating to national defense.
Hassan Abujihaad, 31, is accused of supporting terrorism by disclosing secret information about the location of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them. Investigators say he provided those secrets, in classified documents, to a suspected terrorism financier.
Abujihaad will appear in court Friday. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
The information involved a U.S. Navy battle group scheduled to move to the Persian Gulf in the spring of 2001 to engage in missions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to the indictment. The information included a drawing of the group's formation when it was to pass through the Straits of Hormuz at night under a communications blackout, the indictment says.
Abujihaad had a secret security clearance that would have allowed him access to that material, according to the affidavit.
Telephone messages were left with his attorneys Wednesday.
Abujihaad, also known as Paul R. Hall, is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist arrested in London 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 said they discovered files containing classified information about the positions of U.S. Navy ships and upcoming missions and discussing their susceptibility to attack. The ships were never attacked.
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. He allegedly bought videos promoting violent jihad, or holy war, and praised Usama bin Laden and those who attacked the USS Cole in 2000.
Ahmad was arrested in 2004, but the case against Abujihaad apparently received a boost in December following the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall near Chicago.
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 did not say outright that he was involved in the leak.
Abujihaad received an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2002.