Tribute to the military

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bodies of Two Kidnapped American Security Contractors Recovered in Iraq

Press Release, Courtesy of the FBI

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2008

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

U.S. authorities in Iraq have recovered remains that have been identified as two American contractors in Iraq.

The victims have been identified as:

  • Ronald Withrow of Roaring Springs, Texas, who worked for JPI Worldwide when he was kidnapped on January 5, 2007, and

  • John Roy Young of Kansas City, Missouri, who worked for Crescent Security Group when he was kidnapped on November 16, 2006.

The FBI’s Office of Victim Assistance has been in contact with the victims’ families since the men were kidnapped, and they have already been notified of the recovery.

The men and women of the FBI wish to express our deepest sympathy to the victims’ families. We understand that this is a very difficult time for all the families involved, and the FBI will continue to provide any assistance it can.

This is an open investigation, and the FBI, working with its partners in the Hostage Working Group in Iraq, will continue to aggressively investigate every available lead in order to identify, apprehend, and bring to justice those responsible for this heinous criminal act.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Courtesy of the FBI

To Terrorists, No Less


The USS Benfold. U.S. Navy photo.

The USS Benfold. U.S. Navy photo.

As a bevy of U.S. battleships steamed towards the Middle East in the spring of 2001 on a mission to patrol the Persian Gulf, a sailor aboard one of those vessels was pursuing an entirely different mission. 

His name was Hassan Abu-Jihaad, and he was serving as a signalman aboard the USS Benfold. Little did anyone know at the time, he was also a homegrown radical who was secretly in touch with al Qaeda financiers, sharing classified details about the vulnerabilities and movements of the battleships just six months after al Qaeda operatives had killed 17 Americans aboard the USS Cole in the port of Yemen.

Abu-Jihaad’s traitorous actions were recently recounted in a Connecticut court, leading to his conviction last Wednesday on twin national security crimes: espionage and material terrorism support. 

We learned about Abu-Jihaad in December 2003, when British authorities raided the apartment of Babar Ahmad, a Briton later charged with raising money for al Qaeda through a London-based organization called Azzam Publications. Its former website,, was hosted on servers in Connecticut. 

In Ahmad’s flat was a floppy disk with a password-protected document detailing what was then classified information about the travels and security weaknesses of the USS Benfold and the sister ships in its convoy. That document, it was proved at trial, was sent by Abu-Jihaad while aboard the Benfold, endangering the lives of his own shipmates and countless others.

For More Information at the FBI newscenter website

- Abu-Jihaad conviction
- Abu-Jihaad Indictment
- Shareef guilty plea
- Related case

The investigation—worked jointly by the New Haven Joint Terrorist Task Force and the Connecticut Department of Homeland Security in close cooperation with FBI offices in Phoenix and Chicago and a host of partners in the U.S. and overseas—also uncovered a trail of e-mail messages sent by Abu-Jihaad expressing support for Usama bin Laden, praising the Cole attack, recounting a security briefing on his vessel, and ordering various jihadist videos and other materials from Azzam.

Using court-authorized wiretaps, we monitored Abu-Jihaad’s conversations following his honorable discharge from the Navy. Among what we learned:

  • In one conversation, Abu-Jihaad said that he hadn’t “been in the field of making meals” for more than four years; “meals” was his code word for his ability to provide inside information on U.S. military targets. He also warned associates not to talk about jihad over the telephone or Internet because they were “tapped.” 
  • In Chicago, Abu-Jihaad roomed with Derrick Shareef, who later pled guilty to plotting to attack a suburban mall using hand grenades during the 2006 holiday season. Our wiretaps revealed that Abu-Jihaad discussed attacking military targets in Phoenix and San Diego with Shareef.

It was fortunate that the information Abu-Jihaad provided to terrorist supporters didn’t lead to the loss of any American lives. But it well could have…and Abu-Jihaad will now face up to 25 years in prison for his radically inspired actions.

Headline Archives FBI newscenter Website

Friday, March 07, 2008