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Loose Lips Sink Ships: Saudi Born Naval Engineer Arrested Giving Undercover Agent Info on How to Sink Aircraft Carrier

December 7, 2014  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Loose Lips Sink Ships: Saudi Born Naval Engineer Arrested Giving Undercover Agent Info on How to Sink Aircraft Carrier Image courtesy of foxnews.com

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A Saudi born Naval engineer is facing charges after giving an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as an Egyptian intelligence officer secret documents about the new Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier while discussing how to sink the vessel with a missile.

Image ocurtesy of militaryphotos.net

Image ocurtesy of militaryphotos.net

Mostafa Ahmed Awwad, 35, of Yorktown, Va., was arrested Friday on an FBI affidavit that reads like it came from a Tom Clancy novel.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia said that during his conversations with the undercover agent, Awwad arranged to use a dead-drop location along a secluded hiking trail to pass secrets about the carrier, which is currently under construction in Virginia set for delivery to the Navy in 2016.

According to the affidavit, at hotel meeting on Oct. 9 Awwad gave the undercover blueprints of the aircraft carrier, which he maintained were top secret.

During the meeting, “Awwad discussed where to strike the vessel with a missile in order to sink it,” the affidavit says.

The FBI undercover was posing as an Egyptian spy named “Yousef” and spoke to Awwad in Arabic.

According to the Virginian Pilot on Saturday,  Awwad cried as he was led into the courtroom for a brief hearing before a federal magistrate judge in Norfolk. He wore a pink collared shirts, sweater vest and tan pants, the paper said.

The judge ordered Awwad detained until a hearing Wednesday.

The indictment charges Awwad of two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and technical data. Each count carries a sentence of 20 years in prison.

Awwad was born in Saudia Arabia and married a U.S. citizen in Cairo in 2007. After his marriage he began the process of becoming an American citizen.

He was hired by the Navy to work in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s nuclear engineering and planning department in February and he received security clearance in August.

It is unclear how Awwad became a targeted suspect, the FBI sting began in September when the undercover contacted Awwad.

During their first meeting in a park in Hampton, Va., Awwad explained to “Yousef” that he intended to use his position to obtain military technology for use by the Egyptian government, including but not limited to, the designs of the USS Gerald Ford nuclear aircraft carrier.

“Awwad agreed to conduct secret correspondence with the undercover FBI agent by email and prepaid telephones and agreed  to conduct ‘dead drops’ in a concealed location in the park,” the Justice Department said in a press release, cited by the Navy Times.

At the Oct. 9 meeting Awwad asked for $1,500 to buy a tiny camera to enable him to photograph restricted material around the shipyard, according to the affidavit.

On Oct. 23, Awwad retrieved $3,000 in cash left at the dead-drop location. He left behind a container with an external hard drive and two passport photos. The FBI later collected the containers.

The day after Thanksgiving Awwad was witnessed in his Navy office holding aircraft design schematics which he placed on the floor and photographed them.

The USS Ford is the lead ship in the Navy’s new class of carriers. The Ford stands 25 stories high and is three football fields long.

Retired rear admiral Fred Metz, head of the Navy’s carrier and air station program until 1991, told the paper its bad enough for the schematics of any Navy vessel to be given away.

“But it’s worse to give away the Ford’s,” he said. “There is a whole lot of new technology on it we haven’t seen before.”

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