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Probe of Marine's disappearance re-opened

New evidence found in Falluja

From Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau

Hassoun
Wassef Hassoun shown in a video which appeared after his disappearance near Falluja.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Military investigators have re-opened the case of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Wassef Hassoun after several personal items -- including his military ID and civilian passport -- were found in Falluja, the city where he disappeared in June.

Hassoun reappeared July 7 in Lebanon, where he was born and has relatives.

What happened to Hassoun during that time has been a mystery to military investigators who recently closed two separate investigations into the disappearance.

Because of the new evidence, the case of Hassoun's disappearance is unexpectedly open again. Investigators are assessing the evidence found in Falluja.

After the initial report that Hassoun was missing, military officials assumed he had walked away from camp. He was listed as a deserter.

His status was changed to captured after the release of a videotape that showed him blindfolded with a sword suspended over his head. A few days later, a posting to three Islamist Web sites claimed Hassoun had been beheaded.

Hassoun denied being a deserter and staging his own kidnapping.

A Marine Corps official said representatives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Services did not interview Hassoun until after he completed his 30-day home leave, following his repatriation back to the United States.

Hassoun may now be interviewed again, the official said.

Hassoun's civilian passport, military identification card and his military uniform were all found, sources said.

The uniform was described by those familiar with the case as being in "remarkably good shape."

Other items with Hassoun's name on them, but which the sources declined to describe, were also found. It appeared that some items of identification were altered, the sources said.

Hassoun's personal weapon disappeared from the camp just outside Falluja at the same time he did. It was never recovered.

Also, an amount of cash he had has not been found, sources said.

Two weeks ago, the NCIS presented its findings on two ongoing investigations into Hassoun's disappearance.

One investigation was a missing-person case. The other was a criminal probe into whether there was a breach of national security or classified information.

Marine Corps officials would not say what those findings were. The findings were presented to the top commander of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade at Camp Lejeune, Hassoun's unit.


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