Mariam Taha Thompson, a 62-year-old Lebanese-American who was a contract Arabic translator with the American forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, was sentenced last month to 23 years in jail for spying for Lebanese Hezbollah.
At her trial and during the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), she confessed and asked for mercy, writing a long letter to the judge who presided over her trial.
The following is Taha’s confession excerpted from FBI notes as well as the letter she sent to the judge. Next is a statement by Channing Philips, a US government attorney who was one of the prosecution team against Taha:
Mariam Taha’s confessions
“I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, immigrated to the U.S. in 1990, and became a citizen in 1993.
Starting in 2006, I worked as a contract Arabic linguist with the U.S. military, and was entrusted with a top-secret government security clearance. I had been employed by Worldwide Language Services of Fayetteville, North Carolina, a company that described itself as ‘a leading international organization that has provided elite operational combat interpreters and translators to support U.S., allied and coalition forces for two decades.’
I am at the mercy of Your Honor, and would politely request that you take into consideration other aspects of my life, my love of this country and my patriotism as an American citizen.
I had a lengthy career with the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
In the US, I owned for years a business in Rochester, Minnesota, called Mary’s Cleaning Service. I was active in local business networking groups, and sold cookies at booths during celebrations in downtown Rochester.
I had received letters of appreciation from top American military generals, as well as the Medal of Hero in the War against Terrorism.
During more than three years in Iraq, I participated in hundreds of combat patrols to assist coalition leaders in their engagements with key Iraqi leaders.
In Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, then the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, wrote a glowing 2010 letter of endorsement for me that I had put on my LinkedIn page on the Internet. He wrote that I ‘provided essential information to the theatre-level command which affected policy and operations throughout the country’. He recommended me for a job as a leader of a U.S. military human terrain team, or as a cultural adviser.
In 2017, I started communicating with a person identified in the prosecutor’s document as an “unidentified co-conspirator” Lebanese who lived overseas.
Over time, I developed a romantic interest in him, and learned, among other things, that he had met Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah, who gave him a ring that he was keeping.
I don’t know if he was a Shi’ite. If so, he would be a member of Amal or Hezbollah.
I don’t know about Hezbollah or Amal. I hate Hezbollah and Amal. They are the same. They are ruling Lebanon …They are religious organizations … I looked at them as terrorist organizations.
Hezbollah, in particular, is bad; they kill people, they are like an octopus, and can reach anyone. They rule Lebanon now.
I believed that if I did not pass on to him the classified information that he had asked for, my relationship with him would come to an end, and he would not marry me.
I fully accept the responsibility for my actions. I am not proud of what I have done, and I am filled with sadness and regret for what happened.
I was getting old, and needed someone to hold me when I cried, or to warm me with love and care.
I needed love and when I found this person, he promised me a good life with great love. He made me dream about the smiling future.
But I did not know that it was all lies and that he was just taking advantage of me to reach his goals.
When I discovered his lies, I stopped, but it was too late …”
Channing Philips: “A Lesson to Others”
“Mariam Taha Thompson delivered classified national defense information to aid a foreign government.
As part of the guilty plea, she 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.
In 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 air strikes culminated in the 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, Taha’s friend began asking Thompson for information about the people who had helped the United States to target Suleimani.
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.
She used several techniques to pass this information on to her friend who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information and that the Lebanese Hezbollah military commander wanted to meet her when she came to Lebanon.
She used her access to classified national defense information to provide her friend 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.
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.
That she 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.
Thompson was entrusted with highly sensitive information, and she chose to betray her country by providing classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization.”