Captured Marine Safe at U.S. Embassy in Beirut
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 8, 2004 Marine Corps Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun arrived safely today at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, according to a defense official.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said today that Hassoun, 24, had contacted the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and that staff there "went and picked him up." Boucher said he didn't know how Hassoun had arrived in Beirut, but confirmed that he arrived at the U.S. mission there at about 11 a.m. EST.
Defense officials said Hassoun was last seen June 19 in Anbar Province, Iraq, and was initially reported as missing when he failed to show up for duty June 20. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
The Defense Department changed Hassoun's status to "captured" June 28 after a video shown the previous day on international television showed him being held against his will by masked captors.
Details of Hassoun's capture remain unclear. A statement posted on an Islamic Web site July 3 said he had been beheaded in Iraq. The next day, however, another Web statement declared that Hassoun had not been murdered after promising not to rejoin the U.S. military.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is continuing an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Hassoun's separation from his unit. Naval Criminal Investigative Service officials said they opened a missing-persons investigation on Hassoun June 21, the day they received word the Marine was unaccounted for.
Hassoun, who is of Lebanese descent, calls Salt Lake City, Utah, his home of record.