NEW HAVEN , Conn., March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kevin J. O'Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and other federal officials today announced that a federal jury in New Haven , Connecticut, has found Hassan Abu-Jihaad, formerly known as Paul R. Hall, 32, of Phoenix , Arizona, guilty of providing material support of terrorism and disclosing previously classified information relating to the national defense. The verdict was returned this afternoon. The trial before United States District Judge Mark R. Kravitz began on February 25 .
"We are very pleased with today's verdict, and I am proud of the outstanding work of the agents, analysts and prosecutors involved," stated U.S. Attorney O'Connor. "This verdict demonstrates loudly and clearly that we will seek to hold accountable anyone responsible for providing classified information to those who intend to use it in a manner against our national interests."
According to the evidence provided at trial, in 2001, four or five months after the October 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, Abu-Jihaad provided classified information regarding the movements of a United States Navy battle group, which was charged with enforcing sanctions against the Taliban and engaging in missions against Al Qaeda, to Azzam Publications, a London-based organization that is alleged to have provided material support and resources to persons engaged in acts of terrorism through the creation and use of various internet web sites, e-mail communications, and other means, including www.azzam.com. Between approximately February 2000 and the end of 2001, the web site www.azzam.com was hosted on the computer web servers of a web hosting company located in Trumbull, Connecticut. At the time the classified information was disclosed to Azzam Publications, Abu-Jihaad was an enlistee in the United States Navy on active duty in the Middle East and was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Benfold, one of the ships in the battle group whose movements were disclosed.
"In the post 9/11 world, our challenge is to identify, investigate and apprehend those who would compromise our national security in the name of violent jihadism," said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "Today's verdict demonstrates that our agents and prosecutors met that challenge with dedication and professionalism. We are all very proud of their efforts."
Evidence presented at trial indicated that, in December 2003 , British law enforcement officers recovered a computer floppy disk in a residence of one of the operators of Azzam Publications. Forensic analysis of the disk disclosed a password-protected Microsoft Word document setting forth previously classified information regarding the upcoming movements of a U.S. Naval battle group as it was to transit from San Diego to its deployment in the Persian Gulf in 2001. The document went on to discuss the battle group's perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack.
"We are extremely gratified with the jury's guilty verdict today," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "The evidence in this case showed that Hassan Abu-Jihaad provided classified information to terrorists which could have been used to kill American sailors. Revealing information about U.S. troop movements is clearly a terrible threat to our national security and ICE and our law enforcement partners will use all resources to protect American lives from terrorist organizations."