NEW HAVEN, Nov. 28 “” A former American sailor accused of helping support terrorism by leaking classified information about the whereabouts of Navy vessels in early 2001 told jihadist supporters that if they were not going to do anything with his information to “just destroy it,” a government witness told a federal judge here on Wednesday.
The comment made by the witness, William Crisman, was one of several revelations in the government’s case against Hassan Abu-Jihaad, 31, the defendant. Known as
Paul R. Hall before his conversion to Islam, he has been in federal custody since his arrest in March in Phoenix, where he lived. Wednesday”s evidentiary hearing before Judge Mark R. Kravitz, expected to last the rest of the week, was convened to decide what information can be admitted at his trial next year.
Crisman is not a sterling character himself — among other things, a practicing polygamist, as revealed later in this article. Fortunately, Abu-Jihaad left a wider trail of evidence than his interaction with Crisman:
Investigators began looking into his activities after British authorities raided the home of Babar Ahmad, a British citizen, in London in December 2003 and found password-protected information on a computer about a group of battleships that were scheduled to pass through the Strait of Hormuz on or around April 29, 2001.
Connecticut has been seeking to extradite Mr. Ahmad for prosecution since 2004
on charges that he provided material support to terrorist organizations and causes.
The authorities say that the information about the Navy”s movements, and its
vulnerability to attack, ultimately came from Mr. Abu-Jihaad while he was stationed on the guided missile destroyer Benfold and serving primarily as its signal man. The document
containing the information about troop movements ends with the caveat “please destroy message.”
E-mail messages between Mr. Abu-Jihaad and a group of pro-jihadi Web sites run
by Mr. Ahmad show that the sailor bought jihadi videos from the organization and shared with Mr. Ahmad’s group details of a briefing that he had received on board the Benfold after the bombing of the Cole, another Navy vessel, six months earlier. In one message, Mr. Abu-Jihaad refers to that bombing as a “martyrdom operation.”
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