Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Woman in US convicted of transmitting classified information to Lebanese Hezballah about those who carried out the operation to discharge qasem suleimani
Defense Department linguist sentenced to 23 years in prison for transmitting classified national defense information to assist a foreign government.
By Maibort Petit
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for turning over classified national defense information to aid the foreign government. As part of his March 26 guilty plea, Thompson admitted that he believed that classified national defense information that was being passed on to a Lebanese citizen would be provided to Hezballah, a foreign terrorist organization designated as such by the United States.
"Thompson's sentence reflects the seriousness of his violation of the trust of the American people, the human sources he endangered, and the troops who worked alongside him as friends and colleagues," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers from the Division of Homeland Security.
According to Demers, the fact that "Thompson passed our nation's sensitive secrets to someone he knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made his betrayal even more serious. Thompson's sentence should be a clear warning to all headlines. of the authorization that violations of his oath to this country will not be taken lightly, especially when they put lives in danger, "he warned.
"The defendant's decision to aid a foreign terrorist organization was a betrayal that endangered the lives of the same American men and women on the battlefield who had served alongside her for more than a decade," said the prosecutor. Acting Federal Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia.
Phillips assured that "today's sentence serves to warn that there are serious consequences for anyone who betrays this country by compromising national defense information."
In a statement from the Department of Justice, Deputy Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division said: “This case should serve as a stark reminder to all those who have been entrusted with national defense information. that unilateral disclosure of such information for personal gain or that of others is neither disinterested nor heroic; it is criminal ”.
Kohler maintained that: “By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed on to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson jeopardized our national defense. The men and women of the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to defeat hostile intelligence activities targeting the United States and hold those who help our adversaries to account. "
According to court documents, Thompson was working as a contract linguist at a US military installation abroad, where she was entrusted with a top-secret government security clearance.
Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, he began communicating with his uncharged accomplice using a video chat feature on a secure voice and text messaging app. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in his accomplice. Thompson learned that the non-accused co-conspirator had a relative who was in the Lebanese Interior Ministry and that the non-accused co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the Lebanese Hezbollah general secretary.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq, the United States launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq against Kata'ib Hezbollah, a foreign terrorist organization backed by Iran. These airstrikes culminated in a January 3, 2020 attack that resulted in the death of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani as well as Kata'ib Hezbollah founder Abu Mahdi al- Muhandis.
Following Suleimani's death, the co-conspirator (not accused) began asking Thompson to provide information on the human assets that had helped the United States attack Suleimani. Thompson admitted that he understood that "they" were members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, including an unidentified high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files related to human intelligence sources, including real names, personally identifiable data, background information, and photographs of human assets, as well as operational cables detailing asset information provided to the United States government.
Thompson used various techniques to convey this information to the non-accused co-conspirator, who told him that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah military commander wanted to meet with Thompson when she arrived in Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on February 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets; at least 10 US targets; and multiple tactics, techniques, and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the detriment of the United States and to the benefit of Lebanese Hezbollah.
Thompson's sentencing was the result of significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI's Washington Field Office.