Marine who went missing in Iraq found safe in Beirut

The US Marine who went missing in Iraq and has been at the centre of a deepening mystery was said to be alive and well and at the US embassy in Beirut yesterday.

Officials said that Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, who was born in Lebanon, appeared to be in good health. "We were able to go get him," said the State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "We went to pick him up and brought him back to the embassy."

It was not immediately clear when or how Cpl Hassoun arrived at the embassy but a spokeswoman gave an alternative report of what happened ­ saying he had arrived with members of his family.

Mystery surrounds the disappearance of Cpl Hassoun, who had been missing from his unit since 21 June. Soon after he went missing, a group claiming to be his kidnappers released a video that showed Cpl Hassoun, blindfolded and with a sword over his head. At one point it was reported on an Islamists' website that he had been executed. The following day there was another report saying he was still alive. There were also suggestions that Cpl Hassoun had deserted from the Marines and that the video was a hoax.

A further twist to the saga emerged yesterday evening when it was reported that members of the extended Hassoun clan in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli had been involved in a gun battle with people accusing them of being American collaborators. Two people ­ not members of the Hassoun clan, which numbers more than 1,000 ­ were killed, officials said.

Reporters who visited the family home in the poor Abu Samra district of the city said there were no overt signs of preparations to welcome Cpl Hassoun home. His brother Sami declined to speak to reporters.

The first suggestion that Cpl Hassoun might be returned unharmed came earlier this week when members of his family in Lebanon said that someone identifying themselves as the Marine had contacted them and said he had been released by kidnappers and was "waiting to be picked up". Officers from the FBI visited Cpl Hassoun's home in Utah to follow up leads and the US Navy started an investigation into his disappearance and the possibility his kidnapping was a hoax.

A spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the "matter is under investigation by Naval Criminal Investigative Service" and referred further questions to Washington. Calls to the Pentagon were not returned.

The Marines initially said Cpl Hassoun, who worked as a translator, had disappeared on "unauthorised leave" but changed his status to "captured" after the 27 June television appearance in which he was blindfolded. Various reports in the Lebanese media have suggested that Cpl Hassoun had fled his military camp near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, after seeing one of his colleagues get killed. Another said he was lured away from his unit, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, by an Arab woman with whom he was having a relationship. A Lebanese government official said on Wednesday that the kidnappers had released Cpl Hassoun after he pledged he would not return to the US military.

* Iraqi insurgents detonated a car bomb and then attacked a military headquarters in Samarra with a massive mortar barrage yesterday, levelling the building and killing five US soldiers and one Iraqi guardsman. American troops backed by attack helicopters then fanned out through the city to hunt down the attackers in clashes that lasted into the late afternoon. Tanks deployed in the streets.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot