A former Navy sailor has been found guilty on two counts of supporting terrorism. He leaked military information to terror suspects through a Connecticut-based internet provider.
On the second day of deliberations, a federal jury in New Haven convicted 32-year old Hassan Abu-Jihaad of providing material support to terrorists with intent to kill US citizens, and disclosing secret information about his ship and those in his Navy battle group. US Attorney Kevin Oâ€™Connor says law enforcement takes very seriously the threat of people in the armed services disclosing classified information.
"This case demonstrates that we will do what we have to do to send a message that that type of conduct will not be tolerated, even if fortunately it doesnâ€™t end up in any unforeseen or catastrophic consequences."
Oâ€™Connor acknowledges it was not an easy prosecution. The government had no direct evidence that Abu-Jihaad transmitted the classified battle formations. But he says thatâ€™s not unusual in these kinds of cases.
"Where people take steps to protect themselves and backtrack and cover their stepsâ€¦But I think itâ€™s a real tribute to this investigative team. They left no stone unturned. They went through thousands of gigabytes of computer files and they put together in a painstaking manner this case, in a manner that this jury could conclude that notwithstanding no direct link, that this individual was in fact responsible."
Defense attorneys say an appeal is likely. They argue that most of the information that Abu-Jihaad leaked was publicly available, and that the document was riddled with errors.
Abu-Jihaad was a signalman on a guided-missile destroyer that was deployed to the Persian Gulf, not long after the suicide attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors. He was accused of providing to terror suspects in London details of his battle groupâ€™s movements, including explicit times when the ships were most vulnerable.
Abu-Jihaad faces up to 25 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May.