Abducted Marine Had Reportedly Deserted
The American marine who is being threatened by his kidnappers with beheading had deserted the military because he was emotionally traumatized, and was abducted by his captors while trying to make his way home to his native Lebanon, a Marine officer said Tuesday.
The officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he believed that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was betrayed by Iraqis he befriended on his base and ended up in the hands of Islamic extremists. The officer said Corporal Hassoun, a 24-year-old Marine linguist who was born in Lebanon, was shaken up after he saw one of his sergeants blown apart by a mortar shell. “It was very disturbing to him,” the officer said. “He wanted to go home and quit the game, but since he was relatively early in his deployment, that was not going to happen anytime soon. So he talked to some folks on base he befriended, because they were all fellow Muslims, and they helped sneak him off. Once off, instead of helping him get home, they turned him over to the bad guys.” “It’s all we know right now,” the officer added.
Corporal Hassoun, a fluent Arabic-speaker who had been living with his family in West Jordan, Utah, outside Salt Lake City, joined the Marine Corps to work as a translator. About two months ago, he told a cousin that several American deserters had escaped by bribing Iraqis to help get them out of the country. “He said a lot of soldiers, they don’t want to die, especially when they see someone dying in front of them,” said the cousin, Tarek Hassoun, who lives in Salt Lake City.
This had been intimated by recent between-the-lines statements, including one by BG Kimmel yesterday. A mess, to be sure.