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Source: Missing Marine safe

Source close to family says Hassoun is in Lebanon hometown

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Wassef Hassoun

WEST JORDAN, Utah (CNN) -- Marine Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, who disappeared from his unit in Iraq last month, was reported safe with family members in his hometown in Lebanon by a source close to the family Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the source told CNN that Hassoun, who was depicted on a videotape as a hostage of Iraqi insurgents, called family members to tell them he had been released from custody and was safe and in Lebanon.

A senior State Department official said the United States had some indications Hassoun was safe in Lebanon and U.S. officials were attempting to find him.

Two FBI agents visited Hassoun family members at their Utah home Wednesday afternoon to discuss a phone call apparently from the Marine, an FBI official said.

The source close to the family said Hassoun contacted family members in West Jordan, Utah, and in Tripoli, Lebanon, and told them he had called the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and asked to be picked up from an undisclosed location in Lebanon. The source said Hassoun sounded healthy and happy.

The source said family members were awaiting word from the embassy in Beirut to find out if it had custody of Hassoun. Another U.S. official said the U.S. Embassy in Beirut had been in touch with Hassoun's family.

Hassoun, 24, was born in Lebanon and now lives in West Jordan. He was trained as a truck driver but worked as an Arabic translator with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit. He was last seen June 19 and was reported missing when he failed to report for duty the next day.

Arabic-language television station Al-Jazeera aired a video June 27 showing Hassoun blindfolded with a sword suspended over his head. A narrator on the tape said the captive would be killed if the United States did not free jailed Iraqis.

Earlier reports on Islamic Web sites said Hassoun had been beheaded.

Wednesday's visit to the Hassoun family home in Utah by two agents was the first by the FBI since the hostage ordeal began, according to special agent Kelly Kleinvachter.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday the United States had "received reports that he may be in contact with various individuals."

The Pentagon continued to list Hassoun as captured and was investigating his disappearance and whereabouts, a spokeswoman said.

Earlier Wednesday, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry said its embassy in Iraq informed the Beirut government that Hassoun was "in a safe place," but it gave no further details.

Hassoun's brother Sami told CNN on Tuesday the family had received a clear sign that his brother was alive and had been released. He would not elaborate.

The Pentagon took the unusual step of posting a notice on its Web site about reports that the Marine had been released. But the statement on said, "At this time, the Department of Defense cannot confirm the reported release of U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun."

On Monday, a group claiming to have kidnapped Wassef Hassoun said it had taken him to safety, Al-Jazeera reported.

He "has been sent to a safe place after he had announced his forgiveness and his determination not to go back to the U.S. forces," said the group -- which calls itself "Islamic Response," the security wing of the Islamic Resistance of Iraq -- in a statement faxed to Al-Jazeera and posted on the network's Web site.

The group said its members treated Hassoun well.

CNN's Rusty Dornin and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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