Iraqi spy in U.S. sentenced to 13 years

/ Source: The Associated Press

An Indiana truck driver was sentenced Friday to more than 13 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a plot to sell U.S. intelligence secrets to Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

“I am not a bad man,” Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban told U.S. District Court Judge John D. Tinder during his sentencing hearing. “I help this country a lot. ... I came to live in peace.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Jackson said Shaaban was putting up a front in maintaining his innocence.

“This defendant is a man without a conscience. Mr. Shaaban has no allegiance to this country,” she said. “He acquires and discards citizenship like some people acquire and discard shoes.”

A jury in January convicted Shaaban, 54, on six charges, including acting as an unregistered foreign agent and violating sanctions against Iraq.

Prosecutors said Shaaban, who is Palestinian, traveled to Baghdad in late 2002 and agreed to sell U.S. intelligence secrets to Iraq for $3 million.

Claims feds got the wrong man
Shaaban, who represented himself during his 11-day trial, argued that he was mistaken for a dead twin brother who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Shaaban said he was on a mission for the CIA when he traveled to the Middle East in late 2002, but maintains he never entered Iraq because he was detained by Syrian authorities.

During the trial, a former high-ranking Iraqi intelligence official identified Shaaban as the man who offered to sell him the names of U.S. agents in the country. Prosecutors never alleged that Shaaban had names to sell.

Shaaban was living near Indianapolis when he was arrested in March 2005. FBI agents who raided his house said they found computer files praising Hussein and an unsigned contract proposing to recruit “human shields” to protect Iraq from the U.S. invasion. Authorities said he had seven passports.

Shaaban said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks “put many Arabs and Muslims and innocents in bad positions. I am one of these — I am a victim of 9/11.”

Besides his 160-month sentence, Shaaban will lose his naturalization status. It was unclear where he would be deported after his jail term.