Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun Arrives At Quantico
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Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun arrives in Quantico, Va., on Thursday.
updated 7/15/2004 5:32:01 PM ET 2004-07-15T21:32:01

A U.S. Marine who disappeared in Iraq and turned up in Lebanon three weeks later arrived at a Marine Corps base south of Washington, D.C., on Thursday after six days of evaluation at a U.S. military hospital in Germany, a military official said.

Lt. Col. David Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun would continue to undergo a “repatriation” process until it is determined he is fit and capable of returning to normal duty. He said the process could take from weeks to months.

Hassoun was not made available at Quantico for questions from reporters.

Hassoun left Ramstein Air Base in Germany on a morning flight aboard an Air Force C-5 Galaxy heavy transport plane and stopped first at Dover Air Force Base, Del., where he boarded an Air Force C-12 jet for the flight to Quantico.

A spokesman at Quantico, Marine Corps Capt. Jeff Landis, said Hassoun arrived at 3 p.m. ET, and was received by a military support team that arrived from Hassoun’s home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Quantico is home to the Marines’ Officer Candidate School and is a focal point for the service’s leadership training as well as the development of new warfighting concepts and technologies.

Possibility of a hoax to be explored
The Navy has said it is investigating whether the kidnapping might have been a hoax, but the Naval Criminal Investigation Service is not expected to question Hassoun until his repatriation procedure is completed, the Marine Corps said.

As he left the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Hassoun said he was eager to get home.

“I am in good health and spirits, I look forward to my return home to friends and family,” he said in a written statement provided to the Associated Press, his first public comment since he vanished June 20 from his base near the troubled Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Hassoun had been flown to Germany on Friday after reappearing July 8 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It remains unclear how he made the journey to Lebanon, where he was born and still has some relatives, from Iraq.

“All thanks and praises are due to God for my safety,” he said. “I am also very thankful for all the kind wishes, support and praise for me and my family from my fellow Marines, all the people in the United States, Lebanon and around the world.”

Statement signed ‘Semper Fidelis’
Hassoun signed the statement “Semper Fidelis,” the Marine Corps motto meaning “always faithful.”

During the three weeks he was missing, various conflicting reports emerged about Hassoun — first that he was kidnapped and beheaded, then that he was alive. There also were suggestions it was all a hoax.

Hassoun’s debriefing in Germany was designed to help U.S. military specialists learn any lessons about the circumstances of his disappearance that could help others who find themselves in similar situations.

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