Classified information, defense, Espionage, Hizballah, honeypot, Iran, Iraq, Lebanese Hizballah, Lebanon, linguist, Quds, Shi'a, Suleimani, terrorism, translators, Treason, Trump, US air strikes, US military
There have been lots of Lebanese-Americans, and other Arabic speakers, in the United States for a very long time. It would be more logical to have them teach Americans, without roots in the region, Arabic from a young age. That would reduce, though not eliminate, risk because they wouldn’t have family ties to the region. How many people died because she wanted to marry this Lebanese man that her family, in Lebanon, introduced her to? Was her family part of the plot? Or is she the fall-guy for some other sort of failure?
Mariam Taha Thompson “was born in Lebanon, but became a naturalized United States citizen in 1993.
Thompson maintained contact with her family members in Lebanon and would occasionally visit Lebanon to see her family members.
In 2017, a family member introduced Thompson to a Lebanese national (hereinafter “the unindicted coconspirator”). This introduction was made through social media.
Thompson believed that the unindicted coconspirator was a wealthy and well-connected Lebanese national.
Although Thompson never met the unindicted coconspirator in person, the unindicted coconspirator expressed an interest in marrying Thompson and having her move to Lebanon. Thompson eventually decided that she would marry the unindicted coconspirator after retiring.
Between 2017 and February 2020, Thompson and the unindicted coconspirator communicated with each other using the video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application (hereinafter “the application”). Thompson and the unindicted coconspirator would often speak several times a day using the application. Through these conversations, Thompson learned that the unindicted coconspirator had a nephew who was a member of the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior.
Thompson also learned that the unindicted coconspirator was a Shia Muslim and that he claimed to have contact with members of Lebanese Hizballah. During one conversation, the unindicted coconspirator told Thompson that he had received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hizballah. The unindicted coconspirator knew that Thompson was a military linguist for the United States government, but Thompson believes he did not know where she was stationed, and she never told him where she was stationed.
Prior to January of 2020, the unindicted coconspirator did not ask Thompson to provide classified information to him.
Starting on or about December 29, 2019, the United States launched U.S. airstrikes against Kata’ib Hizballah, an Iranian-backed force in Iraq that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization since 2009. On or about January 3, 2020, one of these strikes killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”) Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, founder of Kata’ib Hizballah.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted coconspirator contacted Thompson. The unindicted coconspirator was very emotional and upset about the U.S. airstrikes, especially the death of Suleimani, and he started to ask Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets that had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Based on her conversations with the unindicted coconspirator, Thompson understood “them” to be Lebanese Hizballah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander of Lebanese Hizballah. The unindicted coconspirator told her to either access the information or ask other linguists for the information if Thompson herself did not have the requisite access. Thompson voluntarily decided to provide classified national defense information of interest to the unindicted coconspirator and Lebanese Hizballah, believing that if she did not, their relationship would come to an end, and the unindicted coconspirator would not marry her…”
“The defendant, MARIAM TAHA THOMPSON (“THOMPSON”) had been a contract linguist since 2006. Prior to her arrest in February of 2020, Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq. Thompson was stationed at the facility in Iraq from mid-December 2019 until her arrest. During Thompson’s time at the facility in Iraq, Thompson held a TOP SECRET//Sensitive
Compartmented Information (“TS//SCI”) U.S. government security clearance and was permitted access to national defense information classified up to the TOP SECRET//SCI level. To obtain this clearance, THOMPSON had to undergo a background investigation and to sign certain non-disclosure and user agreements outlining the potential consequences of mishandling classified national defense information….” Case 1:20-cr-00067-JDB Document 51 Filed 03/26/21 https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/4365.pdf
Minnesota Military Linguist Ensnared in Honeypot “Abandoned Her Country” for Hizballah” by Todd Bensman Special to IPT News April 20, 2021 https://www.investigativeproject.org/8816/minnesota-military-linguist-ensnared-in-honeypot
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Defense Department Linguist Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison for Transmitting Highly Sensitive Classified National Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government
Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was sentenced today to 23 years in prison for delivering classified national defense information to aid a foreign government. As part of her March 26 guilty plea, Thompson admitted that she believed that the classified national defense information that she was passing to a Lebanese national would be provided to Lebanese Hezbollah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“Thompson’s sentence reflects the seriousness of her violation of the trust of the American people, of the human sources she jeopardized and of the troops who worked at her side as friends and colleagues,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “That Thompson passed our nation’s sensitive secrets to someone whom she knew had ties to Lebanese Hezbollah made her betrayal all the more serious. Thompson’s sentence should stand as a clear warning to all clearance holders that violations of their oath to this country will not be taken lightly, especially when they put lives at risk.”
“The defendant’s decision to aid a foreign terrorist organization was a betrayal that endangered the lives of the very American men and women on the battlefield who had served beside her for more than a decade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “Let today’s sentence serve notice that there are serious consequences for anyone who betrays this country by compromising national defense information.”
“This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those entrusted with national defense information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler, Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed onto a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson put our national defense in danger. The men and women of the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to defeat hostile intelligence activities targeting the United States and to hold those who assist our adversaries accountable.”
“Thompson was entrusted with highly sensitive information, and she chose to betray her country by providing classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Today’s significant sentencing shows the dedicated work of the FBI, the U.S. Intelligence Community and our global partners to work swiftly and diligently to safeguard our national security information and hold accountable those who break our nation’s trust.”
According to court documents, Thompson worked as a contract linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility where she was entrusted with a Top-Secret government security clearance. Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator. Thompson learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hezbollah.
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 targeting Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted co-conspirator began asking Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood “them” to be Lebanese Hezbollah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government. Thompson used several techniques to pass this information on to the unindicted co-conspirator, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah military commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 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 U.S. 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 injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hezbollah.
Today’s sentencing was the result of the significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI Washington Field Office.
National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cummings for the District of Columbia prosecuted the case.
Counterintelligence and Export Control
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
National Security Division (NSD)
USAO – District of Columbia
Press Release Number:
Updated June 23, 2021” https://www.justice. gov/opa/pr/defense-department-linguist-sentenced-23-years-prison-transmitting-highly-sensitive
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Defense Department Linguist Charged with Espionage: Mariam Taha Thompson, 61, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, was charged today in the District of Columbia with transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national with apparent connections to Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization that has been so designated by the Secretary of State. According to the affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, the information Thompson gathered and transmitted included classified national defense information regarding active human assets, including their true names. By compromising the identities of these human assets, Thompson placed the lives of the human assets and U.S. military personnel in grave danger.
The announcement was made by John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Timothy J. Shea, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; Robert Wells, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division; and Timothy R. Slater, the Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office.
“While in a war zone, the defendant allegedly gave sensitive national defense information, including the names of individuals helping the United States, to a Lebanese national located overseas,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “If true, this conduct is a disgrace, especially for someone serving as a contractor with the United States military. This betrayal of country and colleagues will be punished.”
“The conduct alleged in this complaint is a grave threat to national security, placed lives at risk, and represents a betrayal of our armed forces. The charges we’ve filed today should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider disclosing classified national defense information to a terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea for the District of Columbia.
“This case shows the value of cooperation across the U.S. Government. Working closely with the Department of Defense, the FBI was able to investigate this willful disregard for keeping national defense information safe and partnered to bring the defendant to the United States to face justice,” said Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division Robert Wells.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the U.S. government’s commitment to protecting the U.S. from the unauthorized disclosure of classified information that can put our country at serious risk of damage – damage to people and damage to our country’s capabilities,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Human assets are the core of the U.S. government’s intelligence, and they have our assurance that we will go above and beyond to protect them. I want to thank the men and women at the FBI and our partners here and abroad who answered the call to assist on this fast-moving investigation. The FBI is charged with protecting our nation’s security and information for a safe and secure tomorrow for all Americans – we take this duty seriously and will not stand by while supposedly trusted individuals violate that trust in such an egregious way.”
Thompson was arrested by FBI Special Agents on February 27, 2020, at an overseas U.S. military facility, where she worked as a contract linguist and held a Top Secret government security clearance.
The investigation leading to this arrest revealed that starting on or about December 30, 2019, a day after U.S. airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Iraq, and the same day protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Iraq to protest those strikes, audit logs show a notable shift in Thompson’s network activity on United States Department of Defense classified systems, including repeated access to classified information she had no need to access. Specifically, during a six-week period between December 30, 2019, and February 10, 2020, Thompson accessed dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the United States government.
A court-authorized search of Thompson’s living quarters on February 19, 2020, led to the discovery of a handwritten note in Arabic concealed under Thompson’s mattress. The note contained classified information from Department of Defense computer systems, identifying human assets by name, and warning a Department of Defense target who is affiliated with a designated foreign terrorist organization with ties to Hizballah. The note also instructed that the human assets’ phones should be monitored.
Thompson transmitted the classified information in the handwritten note to a co-conspirator, in whom she had a romantic interest. The FBI’s investigation revealed that Thompson knew the co-conspirator was a foreign national whose relative worked for the Lebanese government. The investigation also revealed that the co-conspirator has apparent connections to Hizballah. Further investigation revealed that, in a separate communication, Thompson also provided information to her co-conspirator identifying another human asset and the information the asset had provided to the United States, as well as providing information regarding the techniques the human assets were using to gather information on behalf of the United States.
In today’s Criminal Complaint, Thompson was charged with Delivering Defense Information to Aid a Foreign Government in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 794(a) and conspiring to do so in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 794(c).
Thompson is scheduled to make her initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather later this afternoon. A Criminal Complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct for purposes of establishing probable cause, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for violating § 794. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia John Cummings are prosecuting the case.
Counterintelligence and Export Control
National Security Division (NSD)
USAO – District of Columbia
Press Release Number:
Updated March 5, 2020” https://www.justice. gov/opa/pr/defense-department-linguist-charged-espionage