US Marine 'deserter' back in custody 10 years after he first went missing

Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun was first charged with desertion in 2004

A US Marine “deserter”, who returned to the United States after disappearing in Iraq only to go missing again, is back in military custody, officials said on Sunday.

Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, is scheduled to return to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Monday nine-and-a-half years after he failed to report for duty there on 5 January, 2005, following a visit to his family, the Marine Corps said.

He had since been listed as a deserter, the service added.

Major General Raymond Fox, commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Lejeune, will determine whether to court martial Hassoun.

In a written statement from its headquarters at the Pentagon, the Marine Corps said: “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Corporal Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.”

Media reports said he gave himself up in Bahrain.

Hassoun was first charged with desertion a decade ago, after disappearing from his base near Falluja, Iraq, in June 2004; he turned up a month later claiming to have been kidnapped by militants.

During his disappearance Hassoun was seen in a videotape, apparently being held by militants, blindfolded and with a sword poised over his head. An Islamic militant website later claimed he had been beheaded.

However, he showed up unharmed at the US Embassy in Beirut in July 2004; although he denied deserting and told reporters he had been captured and held against his will.

But after a five-month investigation, the Marines alleged that Hassoun had “taken unauthorized leave of the unit where he served as an Arabic interpreter,” the service said in a 2004 release.

Shortly before the start of military proceedings against him, Hassoun failed to report back to Camp Lejeune after visiting his family in Utah.

According to media reports, Hassoun fled the United States through Canada and went to Lebanon, where he was born.

His commanders then officially classified him as a deserter, authorizing civilian police to apprehend him.

A short time later Hassoun was placed on a Navy list of “most wanted” fugitives. A mugshot of him appeared on a Navy criminal justice website, which claimed the missing corporal used the alias “Jafar".

Marine official Captain Eric Flanagan said that Hassoun's case had no connection with that of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his post in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 under unexplained circumstances. Members of Bergdahl's unit have said he walked away on his own and should face desertion charges.

Video: Footage of Bergdahl's release

The Bergdahl case triggered a flood of controversy in part because of questions about the deal the US struck with the Taliban to gain his release May 31, after five years in captivity, in exchange for freeing five senior Taliban commanders from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl has not commented publicly on the circumstances of his disappearance and the Army has made no charges against him.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more: Bowe Bergdahl moved to out-patient care centre
Iraq crisis
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreEXCLUSIVE The Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs his surreal series returns, the comedian on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
music‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do 'The Independent’s' experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary