Marine who deserted twice returning home to face charges

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Quantico, VA, United States (4E) – A U.S. Marine who deserted his post in Iraq in 2004 and then escaped the following year to Lebanon before his military trial for theft and desertion is returning home soon to face charges, the Marine Corps said on Sunday.

In a statement, the Marine Corps said Lebanese-born Cpl. Wassef Hassoun turned himself in to Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigators in Bahrain and is scheduled to return to Norfolk, Virginia on Sunday.

Hassoun was prompted to return to the U.S. due to death threats in Lebanon, according to officials.

Hassoun, 34, disappeared from his base in Fallujah, Iraq on June 20, 2004 taking with him his service-issued 9mm pistol and a Humvee. The military declared him a deserter.

A week after he disappeared, a video surfaced showing him blindfolded and a masked man holding a sword over him. His status was changed from deserter to captured.

On July 8, 2004, Hassoun showed up at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon unharmed. He was returned to the U.S. and was investigated by the military at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The finding was that he faked his kidnapping and he was charged again with desertion and theft of a Humvee.

Before judicial proceedings, Hassoun asked authorities to allow him to visit his family in Lebanon. He was given a leave and he flew to Lebanon via Canada and did not return to base. He was against listed as a deserter in January 2005.

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