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MUSLIM ACCOUNTANT WORKING FOR WESTERN FIRMS TURNS TRAITOR

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Former accountant Sabirhan Hasanoff, in a courtroom sketch made during sentencing in United States Federal court by Judge Kimba Wood. Photo: Reuters

To his devastated family and friends, Sabirhan Hasanoff was a source of inspiration, a loving father of three young children, loyal husband and the first to help out anyone in need with advice, cash or moral support.

To US authorities, Hasanoff was an example of the new breed of hidden enemy.

Hasanoff was an al-Qaeda wolf in a business suit.

Raised in Australia, a resident of New York and employee of blue chip accounting firms including KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hasanoff in recent years became radicalised by American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, who preyed on successful Muslim men, making them feel guilty about their privileged lives.

He also fell under the spell of two al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen known by the aliases “The Doctor” and “Suffian”.

When they asked Hasanoff to buy a remote control device used for detonating explosives, he did so.

When the affiliates needed cash, Hasanoff handed over an “abundant” amount.

When a senior terrorist leader asked Hasanoff to conduct surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange for a potential attack and prepare a report, he did.

Hasanoff’s desire was to engage in jihad and fight alongside other Muslims in a war zone, whether it was Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq or another global hotspot.

“Hasanoff threw in his lot with al-Qaeda long after it was abundantly clear that al-Qaeda’s core mission is, simply, to kill Americans at scale,” US prosecutor, Glen A. Kopp, told the US District Court in Manhattan.

Hasanoff, who entered a guilty plea to a charge of providing material support, including financial support, equipment, and technical advice, to al-Qaeda associates in Yemen, was sentenced on Monday to 18 years’ jail in federal prison.

Judge Kimba Wood showed little mercy, shaving just two years off the maximum sentence.

Hasanoff’s derailment is a sorry tale.

Born in China to Uzbekistani parents, Hasanoff’s family, facing persecution in China just as they had in Uzbekistan, moved to Australia when he was a baby.

They settled in Adelaide, he attended local schools, assimilated with local kids, soaked up the culture and lifestyle and became an Australian citizen.

As a teenager, his family packed up again and moved to Brooklyn, New York, where his parents lived a “meagre” life operating a newsstand.

Hasanoff was ambitious and determined to make the most of America, working hard in high school and graduating from New York’s Baruch College with a bachelor degree in business administration and earning big salaries at a succession of blue chip accounting firms.

When the passenger jets flew into the World Trade Centre buildings on September 11, 2001, and the daughter of a friend who worked in one of the towers was missing, Hasanoff embarked on a frantic search of Manhattan hospitals looking for her.

They discovered later she was killed in the terror attack.

Prosecutors believe Hasanoff and a Brooklyn co-accused Wesam el-Hanafi became supportive of violent extremist Islamic causes since at least 2003, and in 2006, while both were living in the United Arab Emirates, they met an al-Qaeda supporter who introduced them to Suffian, who connected them with The Doctor, who was known for facilitating travel of mujahidin.

Hasanoff and El-Hanafi came to the attention of US authorities when The Doctor and Suffian were arrested and interrogated.

Hasanoff was arrested in the UAE in 2010 and the ramifications on his loved ones has been harsh.

Hasanoff’s wife was seven months pregnant with their third child and, against her doctor’s orders, flew from UAE to New York to support her husband after he was extradited.

The stress and anxiety led to the premature birth of their daughter, who had to be kept in intensive care and has since been treated for neurological, physical, speech and heart issues.

His other two children, a nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, are receiving treatment for “separation anxiety and adjustment issues”.

Hasanoff, after three years in prison ahead of Monday’s sentencing, has also suffered.

Hasanoff’s lawyer Joshua Dratel, who represented Australian David Hicks during his detention in Guantanamo Bay, said Hasanoff was kept in inhumane and unsanitary conditions and exposed to tuberculosis during his initial jail stay in the UAE.

While locked up in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Centre, he contracted a bacterial infection.

“I made a good living and my family and I enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle,” Hasanoff wrote in a letter to Judge Wood.

“And then, for reasons that I still have trouble confronting, I threw that all away.

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ON THIS DAY ESPIONAGE CASE-ROSENBERGS

The trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg began in New York Southern District federal court. Judge Irving R. Kaufman presides over the espionage prosecution of the couple accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians (treason could not be charged because the United States was not at war with the Soviet Union). The Rosenbergs, and co-defendant, Morton Sobell, were defended by the father and son team of Emanuel and Alexander Bloch. The prosecution includes the infamous Roy Cohn, best known for his association with Senator Joseph McCarthy.

David Greenglass was a machinist at Los Alamos, where America developed the atomic bomb. Julius Rosenberg, his brother-in-law, was a member of the American Communist Party and was fired from his government job during the Red Scare. According to Greenglass, Rosenberg asked him to pass highly confidential instructions on making atomic weapons to the Soviet Union. These materials were transferred to the Russians by Harry Gold, an acquaintance of Greenglass. The Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb (and effectively started the Cold War) in September 1949 based on information, including that from Greenglass, they had obtained from spies.

The only real direct evidence of the Rosenberg’s involvement was the confession of Greenglass. The left-wing community believed that the Rosenbergs were prosecuted because of their membership in the Communist Party. Their case became the cause celebre of leftists throughout the nation.

The trial lasted nearly a month, finally ending on April 4 with convictions for all the defendants. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death row on April 6. Sobell received a thirty-year sentence. Greenglass got fifteen years for his cooperation. Reportedly, the Rosenbergs were offered a deal in which their death sentences would be commuted to life in return for an admission of their guilt. They refused and were executed.

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