Former Navy signalman Hassan Abu-Jihaad was convicted today on charges "of leaking information about the movements and vulnerabilities of ships in his battle group to suspected terrorism supporters" in spring 2001, months before 9/11. These secrets were sent via e-mail to a pro-Taliban Web site.
But in reporting the story, MSNBC.com ran an Associated Press story that failed to note Abu-Jihaad is an American born convert to Islam, arguably germane to his terror conviction given the recipient of the classified material he leaked in 2001. By contrast, CBSNews.com ran an AP story that mentioned Abu-Jihaad's convert status:
The American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced May 23. His attorneys said they were disappointed, and that an appeal was likely.
Neither AP article specifically named the Taliban as an indirect beneficiary of Abu-Jihaad's espionage, although U.S. Department of Justice documents show that the webmaster he was in contact with, Babar Ahmad, ran Web sites that encouraged Muslims to support the Osama bin Laden-harboring radical Islamist government of Afghanistan:
Documents filed with the Court allege that between February 29, 2000 and December 17, 2001, both www.azzam.com and www.qoqaz.net carried the message "… Muslims must use every means at their disposal to undertake military and physical training for jihad." The sites provided instructions for individuals to prepare to wage jihad through physical training and firearms training.
The web sites also provided very explicit instructions on how to raise funds for, and then transmit them to, the Taliban. For example, in 2001, the sites suggested the use of the hawala system – a record-less financial transaction system – to transfer funds to Pakistan and the Taliban. The sites instructed that monies be hand-delivered only to specifically named members of the Taliban Consul General in Pakistan, and instructed users how to respond if intercepted by law enforcement officers. More particularly, the sites suggested that smugglers carry form letters explaining that the money represented donations from charitable organizations in the United States.
Between November 2001 and March 23, 2002, a www.azzam.com message instructed Pakistani nationals from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom on how they could obtain a visa to travel through Pakistan and on to Afghanistan in order to fight for the Taliban.