Two U.S. Sailors Charged With Urging Pro-Saddam Sabotage of Warship
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Two American sailors were ordered Friday to face a court-martial for allegedly trying to sabotage a carrier in the Persian Gulf in support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the U.S. Navy said.
A report from the U.S.-run Subic Bay naval station said Airman Apprentice Abdul H. Shaheed, 22, of Saint George, S.C., and Seaman Apprentice James L. Moss, 21, of Marrero, La., were charged with ″urging disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty″ while aboard the USS Ranger at sea in January.
The two were accused of encouraging fellow sailors to sabotage the Ranger’s aircraft launch system and kidnap the skipper, Capt. Ernest Christensen.
A Navy spokesman who relayed the charges to reporters, Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Mukri, said the alleged plan was in support of Saddam’s call for a worldwide Muslim Holy War against the United States for its military moves against Iraq.
Mukri refused to say whether the two accused sailors were Muslims. They could receive a dishonorable discharge, 10 years imprisonment, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and reduction to the lowest rank if convicted.
No other details were given. The Navy announced March 8 that a third sailor, Seaman Danny Roberson, 25, of Columbus, Ohio, was also under investigation but Friday’s statement made no mention of his case.
In a statement earlier this month, the Navy said the three were being investigated for conspiracy to commit sabotage and kidnapping as well as undermining order and discipline by interferring with the Ranger’s mission.
It was unclear whether the alleged offense took place while the carrier was actually in the Persian Gulf. The Ranger, whose home port is San Diego, passed through Subic Bay, 50 miles northwest of Manila, in early January on its way to the gulf.
Rear Adm. Thomas Mercer, commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in the Philippines, issued the court-martial order Friday based on investigations made by Lt. Cmdr. Leroy Dickens of the Judge Advocate General’s office.
The Navy report said court-martial proceedings will be held in Subic, but no date has yet been set.
All three sailors were flown back to Subic in February while an investigation under was under way. The martial law investigation corresponds to grand jury inquiries in civilian law.