Marine Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, accused of deserting, turns himself in

Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is shown outside Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., in 2004.
(Dylan Moore / Associated Press)

Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, who has been declared a deserter on two separate occasions a decade ago, has turned himself in to U.S. custody and will face charges, the Marines confirmed.

The 34-year-old arrived in Norfolk, Va., on Sunday and is scheduled to go Monday to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where his case will be adjudicated, according to a Marine spokesman. He had been in the Middle East, the spokesman said.

Hassoun, an Arabic interpreter from Utah, disappeared in June 2004 from a military camp near Fallouja, Iraq, and turned up the next month with relatives in Lebanon. A week after his disappearance, he appeared in a hostage video. A group identifying itself as Islamic Response claimed to be holding him and threatened to behead him unless detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were released.

Upon returning to the United States that year, Hassoun said he had been kidnapped and held against his will by insurgents. But some suspected it had been a hoax. After a five-month investigation, he was charged with theft, loss of government property and wrongful appropriation of a government vehicle, and he was accused of leaving the Marine camp with his service pistol.


Hassoun then failed to return from leave in January 2005, days before military court proceedings were scheduled to take place.

“The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl. Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Marines said Sunday. It will become clear this week what those charges entail, the spokesman said.

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