Hassoun Now in Germany
ABC News/AP – Marine Who Vanished in Iraq Now in Germany
A U.S. Marine who vanished in a reported kidnapping in Iraq and resurfaced in Beirut more than two weeks later arrived Friday at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, a spokesman said. Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun arrived aboard a C-17 transport and was immediately whisked away in a green ambulance to nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, said Air Force Master Sgt. Jon Hanson.
He was expected to stay 3-4 days for “debriefing and evaluation” before returning to the United States, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw said.
Hassoun, reported missing from his base near the troubled city of Fallujah, arranged with American officials to pick him up Thursday in Beirut and bring him to the U.S. Embassy, according to U.S. officials.
The plot thickens. And the story has a bizarre new twist:
Also Thursday, a gunfight broke out between members of Hassoun’s clan in his home city of Tripoli and business rivals who called them American collaborators because Hassoun joined the marines. Two people were killed.
Mohammed Hassoun, the man accused of killing the two men, surrendered to police later Thursday and was being questioned, security officials said.
News24 (South Africa) – Marine disappearance probed
The US military said on Friday it was investigating what happened to a Lebanese-born marine who went missing in Iraq and was once feared to have been beheaded by his captors before resurfacing safely. The state department announced late on Thursday that Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, 24, was at the US embassy in Beirut after making contact with US authorities to arrange a time to meet earlier in the day. Hassoun was last seen on June 19 at a US military camp outside the insurgent bastion of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, and was reported missing a day later, the military said.
Following an initial inquiry, Hassoun was listed as a deserter but his status was changed to captured after a video was broadcast a week later showing a marine being held hostage by masked gunmen, the military said. “The circumstances regarding his whereabouts between 19 June and 8 July are under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”
On Monday, a statement attributed to the Islamic Retaliation Movement – Armed Resistance Wing and read on Al-Jazeera television said Hassoun was safe and had been released. Another armed group on Saturday had made a subsequently discredited statement that he had been beheaded. His presumed captors had said the marine had been set free because he had promised to take off his uniform. “Hassoun promised not to go back to the US army,” their statement said. [Of course, he’s a Marine, so no problem living up to that one. – ed.]