U.S. officials said yesterday Ahmad al-Halabi, the U.S. airman who worked as an Arabic-language translator at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and was arrested on suspicion of spying, had e-mailed a Syrian tied to the al-Qaida terror network.
According to a report in the New York Post, al-Halabi, who was born in Syria, e-mailed a handful of “individuals” in Syria. The information comes from data collected when investigators went through the airman’s quarters at Gitmo.
“The case is going more in the direction of radical Islamic groups instead of the Syrian government. At this point we don’t think there is a Syrian intelligence connection,” a military official told the Post. Earlier reports had mentioned a possible link to the government in Damascus.
Court documents reveal the Air Force was “monitoring and investigating” al-Halabi even before he was sent to the U.S. base in Cuba to translate for Muslim terror suspects being detained there.
Special Agent Lance Wega, the paper reports, wrote in a search-warrant application that al-Halabi “made statements criticizing United States policy with regard to the detainees and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East” and also “expressed sympathy for and had unauthorized contact with the detainees.” The warrant was granted for officials to search the airman’s home in California. He was arrested in July in Florida on his way home from Guantanamo.
Also found in al-Halabi’s quarters at the base, the Post reports, were pieces of mail belonging to al-Qaida and Taliban suspects and – found on his computer – 186 classified Pentagon documents related to the detainees. Investigators claim he e-mailed or posted four of those documents on the Internet.