WASHINGTON — A former Navy sailor was arrested on terrorism charges Wednesday for alleging mishandling classified information that ended up in the hands of a suspected terrorism financier.
Hassan Abujihaad, 31, of Phoenix, was arrested in a case that began in Connecticut and has stretched across the country and into Europe and the Middle East.
Abujihaad, who is also known as Paul R. Hall, is charged in the same case as Babar Ahmad, a British computer specialist accused of running Web sites to raise money for terrorism. He is schedule be extradited to the U.S. to face trial.
Abujihaad was arrested in Phoenix on charges of supporting terrorism with an intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.
During the Ahmad investigation, investigators discovered computer files containing classified information about the positions of U.S. Navy ships and discussing their susceptibility to attack.
Abujihaad, a former enlisted man, exchanged e-mails with Ahmad while on active duty on the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, in 2000 and 2001, according to an affidavit released Wednesday. He allegedly purchased videos promoting violent jihad.
The documents retrieved from Ahmad show drawings of Navy battle groups and discuss upcoming missions. They also say the battle group could be attacked using small weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades. The ships were never attacked.
Abujihaad had a secret security clearance that would have allowed him access to that material, according to the affidavit.
The investigation was run out of Connecticut because Ahmad allegedly used an Internet service provider there to host one of his fundraising Web sites.
Ahmad was arrested in 2004 but the case against Abujihaad apparently received a boost in December following the arrest of Derrick Shareef, 22, of Genoa, Ill., near Chicago, who was accused of planning to use hand grenades to attack holiday shoppers at a mall.
According to the affidavit, Shareef and Abujihaad lived together in 2004 when Ahmad was arrested. After reading news reports of the case, Abujihaad became upset and said “I think this is about me,” Shareef told investigators.
Authorities then taped a phone conversation between Abujihaad and a confidential informant in which Abujihaad appeared nervous. Though Abujihaad didn’t say outright that he was involved in the leak of classified information, the affidavit provided enough evidence for an arrest warrant.