Sat, Jan 21, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Spy suspect was sent to Disney World


The US government paid for a trip to Disney World for an Indiana truck driver suspected of trying to sell information to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government so the FBI could secretly search his home.

Testimony presented during Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban's trial on Thursday recounted how FBI agents searched his home after a federal magistrate authorized an undisclosed search under the Patriot Act.

Federal prosecutors allege Shaaban, 53, traveled to Baghdad in late 2002 and agreed to sell the names of US operatives to Hussein's government for US$3 million. No evidence has been presented that Shaaban actually had such information.

According to Thursday's testimony, the government and Shaaban's boss arranged for Shaaban to travel to Orlando, Florida, with his wife and son in Oct. 2004. While they were away, FBI agents searched Shaaban's home outside Indianapolis, where they took photographs, photocopied documents and copied his computer hard drive.

Agents allegedly found computer files praising Hussein and an unsigned contract proposing to recruit "human shields" to protect Iraq from the US invasion, along with evidence of multiple identities.

Charles Mong, president of CLM Freight Lines, said the FBI asked him to tell Shaaban the Florida vacation was a gift from him.

Shaaban was not told about the October search until after his arrest last March, when the FBI conducted a more public search of the home.

Shaaban, who is conducting his own defense with assistance from two attorneys, asked US District Judge John D. Tinder for a half-day recess to prepare for his own testimony on Friday.

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