Prosecutors have said Shaaban was trained as a spy in the former Soviet Union and, after emigrating to the U.S., legally changed his name in 1997 to Joe Brown.Gateway Pundit expands on that a bit more:
At first, he said, Shaaban Hafiz Ahmad Ali Shaaban, 53, wanted $5 million to help the Iraqis learn how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was infiltrating Iraq before the spring 2003 invasion.Sounds every bit like an opportunist bazaar all the way around...a down-on-his luck truck driver trying to make money off Saddam and the Mukhabarat agent trying to lessen his war crimes culpability.
"I said, 'You're trying to help us, and you ask $5 million. What kind of help is that?' " the Iraqi said.
Later, the Iraqi official said, Shaaban cut his price to $3 million. The deal fell apart after Shaaban returned to the United States and could not produce the promised CIA documents, the witness testified.
But is Shaaban really just a two-bit hustler? Maybe, but this earlier story from the Indystar is very interesting:
From jail, Shaaban has compounded his troubles: He must also persuade jurors that a letter in Arabic he sent his brother Oct. 3 was not a death threat. Federal prosecutors have indicated Shaaban's older brother, Mohammed Hafiz Ahmed, will be flown in from California in an effort to convict Shaaban of illegally securing U.S. citizenship and to debunk his testimony about the existence of a twin brother. An FBI translation of Shaaban's letter states that if Ahmed tells the truth he will be viewed as a traitor. The letter goes on to state his brother's head will be lopped off and hung from a tree and that no one will pray for him.When talking in Arabic he says one thing, when talking in English, another:
"You are the only remaining witness the FBI depends on to testify against your Muslim brother," he stated. "If you lied, you would be a national hero."
Shaaban then asked Ahmed to call his defense attorney at the time, Dazey, "and tell him . . . that we are twins." The letter resulted in an additional charge in November of witness tampering.
Shaaban said the charge arose from cultural misunderstanding and that he was trying to engage his brother in Islamic dialogue.
"Why would Saddam Hussein in the summer of 2002 need a truck driver in Indiana to be an agent for him?" he asked. "Why would Russians want an Indiana truck driver to sell secrets for them to Iraq? All these questions the FBI is not concerned with."Cover, Mr. Shaaban. Cover.
Let's add everything up. Shaaban is a rabid supporter of the Palestinians, he was pretending to be an American, yet met with a Mukhabarat agent before our invasion, he's a master manipulator and has multiple identities. Sounds like an agent to me, one for Saddam's heart.
Shabaan is putting on a real show. He actually removed himself from court on Tuesday.
Today, he cross examined himself:
Initially, Shaaban, continuting to act as his own attorney, asked himself questions, which he responded to in Arabic. However, after an hour of struggling to overcome frequent objections from the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon M. Jackson, he turned the questioning over to his standy-by lawyers, William H. Dazey Jr. and Michael J. Donahoe.It's tempting to draw some parallels between Shabaan and another terrorist some believed had ties to Iraq, Ramzi Yousef. Both had shady pasts and many aliases, and both decided to represent themselves in court. The difference being Yousef was trying to leverage his off-the-chart charm in an effort to manipulate the proceedings, while Shabaan appears to be going for insanity. Both strategies could easily come from the same playbook, though.