Two-Time Marine Deserter Surrenders After Nine-Year Disappearance

Jun 29, 2014 7:21pm
AP wassef ali hassou jt 140629 16x9 608 Two Time Marine Deserter Surrenders After Nine Year Disappearance

(Credit: Dylan Moore/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON — Marine Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, a two time deserter, has turned himself in to military authorities after nine years on the run.

In 2004, Hassoun disappeared in Iraq, and though he claimed he was kidnapped by Iraqi militants, he was later charged as a deserter. He deserted a second time after he had been brought back to the United States and was labeled a deserter.

In a statement the Marine Corps announced that Hassoun’s status had changed from deserter to “military control.”

According to the statement, “the Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl. Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

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Hassoun, 34, turned himself over to authorities in Norfolk, Va. He is expected to return to Camp Lejuene, N.C., on Monday where his case will be adjudicated.

The former Marine interpreter first disappeared from a Marine camp in Fallujah, Iraq, in June 2004. Shortly after he disappeared, a video materialized showing him blindfolded with his alleged captors threatening to behead him unless demands to release prisoners were met.

Nevertheless, two weeks later Hassoun walked unharmed into the U.S. embassy in his native Lebanon.

A subsequent investigation determined that despite his assertions that he had been kidnapped, he had in fact deserted.

He disappeared again after an authorized leave to his home town of West Jordan, Utah. He was listed as a deserter after he failed to report to duty on Jan. 5, 2005.

At that time, Hassoun already faced prosecution for desertion charges resulting from his strange disappearance in Iraq.

There has been speculation that Hassoun spent part of the last nine years in Lebanon. The Marine press release indicates he was overseas before his return to the United States.

Hassoun’s desertion case will draw comparisons to that of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who recently returned to the United States following five years in captivity by the Taliban.

Unlike Bergdahl, whose disappearance from a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan is still being investigated, Hassoun’s 2004 disappearance in Iraq was determined to be a desertion. It was while his case was being processed that he deserted a second time. He could now face criminal charges for both desertions.

The new investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance began two weeks ago and is slated to conclude in Mid-August.

It will determine whether there was any misconduct involved in Bergdahl’s disappearance from his remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

According to officials familiar with the contents of the Army’s 2009 investigation of Bergdahl’s case, the report determined that he’d left his outpost voluntarily, but could not determine whether he intended to return.

Bergdahl continues to receive treatment and counseling at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, though now as an outpatient.

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