MANHATTAN (CN) – The 2nd Circuit upheld the conviction of a former member of the U.S. Navy of leaking classified ship movements to a jihadist organization.
Hassan Abu-Jihaad, a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Paul Raphael Hall, is serving 10 years after a Connecticut federal jury convicted him in April 2009 of having relayed to unauthorized persons the movements of a Navy battlegroup being deployed to the Persian Gulf.
Abu-Jihaad, which translates to “Father of Jihad,” appealed his conviction on the basis that unconstitutional evidence should have been suppressed, that evidence overall was insufficient to support conviction, that he was denied a fair trial, and that the court should not have issued protective orders under the Classified Information Procedures Act.
Writing for the three-judge appellate panel in Manhattan, Judge Reena Raggi found that the claims lacked any merit.
Abu-Jihaad enlisted with the Navy months after he had his name legally changed.
“This curious choice appears not to have raised any concern in the United States Navy when, in January 1998, Abu-Jihaad enlisted,” Raggi wrote, adding that the sailor obtained clearance to receive classified defense information.
Abu-Jihaad leaked classified information to London-based Azzam Publications, which maintained websites glorifying martyrdom in the name of jihad, the 74-page ruling states.
British authorities linked Abu-Jihaad to Azzam after searching one of the group’s associates, Babar Ahmad, and discovering a document describing the anticipated deployment of 10 Navy ships from the U.S. Pacific coast to the Persian Gulf, with special attention to the battlegroup’s vulnerabilities.
Authorities found that Abu-Jihaad had sent e-mails to Azzam discussing his support of jihad and purchase of martyrdom materials.
“In its review of 23,000 Azzam e-mails, the government discovered only two correspondents with military e-mail addresses: (1) a Navy Commander who commented angrily on Azzam’s support for jihad and (2) Abu-Jihaad,” the ruling states. “Moreover, Abu-Jihaad’s military e-mail address was one of the few addresses saved in an Azzam email account address book.”
Raggi wrote that the district court not only avoided abusing its discretion in convicting Abu-Jihaad, but should be commended for carefully protecting his rights.