ARLINGTON, Va., June 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. Marine twice declared a deserter has turned himself in to military authorities after nearly a decade in hiding.
Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun disappeared in June 2004 from a military camp in Iraq. A week later, video surfaced of Hassoun being held hostage by a group calling themselves "Islamic Response," who threatened to behead him if the U.S. did not release detainees in Iraq.
"I was captured and held against my will by anti-coalition forces for 19 days. This was a very difficult and challenging time for me," Hassoun claimed in 2005.
That video was immediately called into question when, a month later, Hassoun resurfaced with relatives in Lebanon. A five-month investigation concluded the video was in fact a hoax and Hassoun was charged with theft, loss of government property and wrongful appropriation of a government vehicle.
Because he turned himself in after being discovered in Lebanon, military authorities did not view Hassoun as a flight risk. This assessment proved to be a critical miscalculation, and just days before military proceedings were set to begin Hassoun disappeared.
According to the Marines, the Utah-born Arabic interpreter turned himself in to Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigators in Bahrain, claiming he feared for his life in Lebanon.
"NCIS worked with Cpl. Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," said the Marines in a statement.