A U.S. Marine corporal who was declared a deserter twice has surrendered, a Marines spokesman said Sunday.
Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun of Utah first disappeared from a camp near Fallujah, Iraq, in June 2004 and a week after his disappearance, a group identifying itself as the National Islamic Resistance/1920 Revolution Brigade claimed to be holding him. He turned up a month later with relatives in Lebanon.
When he returned to the United States, he said he had been held against his will but there were doubts about the veracity of his story.
He was again reported absent without leave in January 2005 when he failed to report to Camp LeJuene, North Carolina, to face trial for desertion and theft. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained military records indicating Hassoun was torn between his duty and Muslim beliefs. He allegedly refused to translate questions about Islam or to raise his voice when questioning jihadi imams and sheiks.
He was flown from an undisclosed site in the Middle East to Norfolk, Virginia, Sunday, the Associated Press reported. Marine spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan said Hassoun's case is unrelated to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released by the Taliban earlier this month.
Hassoun was born in Lebanon and immigrated with his parents to Utah in 1999, yourhoustonnews.com reported. Members of his unit told investigators Hassoun supported Hezbollah attacks on Israel and listened to jihadi sermons on propaganda CDs.
A video by Hassoun's alleged kidnappers that turned up on Al-Jazeera featured him blindfolded, a sword poised above his head. The kidnappers demanded the release of Islamist prisoners in U.S. custody.