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'Missing Marine' Missing Again

A Marine charged with desertion who claimed he was abducted by anti-coalition forces in Iraq failed to return from a scheduled leave and was again declared a deserter Wednesday.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, an Arabic translator for his unit, failed to report for duty Tuesday following an authorized holiday, said Maj. Matt Morgan, a spokesman for the Camp Lejeune-based 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Hassoun was still missing Wednesday afternoon, Morgan said, and "his command officially declared him a deserter and issued authorization for civil authorities to apprehend Hassoun and return him to military control."

The corporal's hearing on the Iraq desertion charge has been delayed until Jan. 13 to allow Hassoun to hire a civilian lawyer to assist his military attorneys.

Hassoun's last military court hearing was held shortly before most personnel at the base began Christmas holiday leave. Hassoun was not being held in custody.

His brother Mazen Hassoun, reached in West Jordan, Utah, where he lives, said he was surprised by the latest accusation and had not heard from his brother but was awaiting a call from him.

In Iraq, Hassoun had last been seen June 19, but did not report for duty the next day and was listed as missing.

On June 27, the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera broadcast the photo of Hassoun looking as if he was a hostage, blindfolded and with a sword behind his head. A group called the National Islamic Resistance/1920 Revolution Brigade claimed to be holding him and was threatening to decapitate him unless detainees in "U.S.-led occupation prisons" were released, Al-Jazeera said.

Hassoun contacted American officials in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 8, and he was taken to the American Embassy there.

He spent about a week in a U.S. military hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, then returned to the United States, and eventually to Camp Lejeune.

He has made one statement since returning to the United States, saying he was captured and held against his will by anti-coalition forces. Hassoun has declined interview requests.

During fighting in November in Fallujah, U.S. troops recovered Hassoun's personal belongings in a box on the third floor of a three-story commercial building. The property included an identification card, a uniform and a book.

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