Marine to Return Home Soon

Marine to Return Home Soon

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BERLIN (AP) -- The U.S. Marine who mysteriously vanished in Iraq and reappeared in Lebanon nearly three weeks later is doing better in a U.S. military hospital in Germany and will likely return home within a few days, officials said Monday.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was being debriefed at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center by intelligence specialists, psychologists, physicians and a Muslim chaplain, who were hoping to learn more of his ordeal, said Marine Corps Europe spokesman Maj. Tim Keefe by telephone from the hospital.

Hassoun, 24, disappeared June 20 from his base near the troubled Iraqi city of Fallujah and in the three weeks that he was missing, various conflicting reports emerged about him -- first that he was beheaded, then that he was alive.

Arab television on June 27 showed a videotape of him with his eyes covered by a white blindfold and a sword hanging over his head.

He then showed up July 8 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, but it was unclear how he reached Lebanon and contacted American officials.

The Navy has said it is investigating whether the entire kidnapping might have been a hoax, but Keefe said the debriefing team was also conducting "survival, evasion, resistance, and escape" questioning.

"Some of those lessons can go immediately back to people that are (in Iraq) and in that way they may have something that can save someone else's life," Keefe said.

Keefe said he could not provide details on what the debriefing team has already learned.

Hassoun is expected to be able to return to his home unit in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, "in a couple days," Keefe said.

On his arrival at Landstuhl on Friday, doctors said that Hassoun seemed to be in good health but had lost 20 pounds and was having trouble sleeping.

He is now sleeping better, and has been talking on the telephone with his mother in Lebanon and his brother in Utah as well as other family members, said hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw.

"He is in good spirits, he's doing well," she said. "Today he's going to get a haircut and shave and look like a Marine again."

She said that the debriefing team had been speaking with Hassoun regularly.

"Most of it's just conversations, and it's done in an atmosphere as comfortable as possible for him," she said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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