DOD linguist sentenced for transmitting classified docs to Hezbollah

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A former contract linguist stationed in Iraq with the Department of Defense (DOD) was sentenced Wednesday for knowingly transmitting classified information to a Lebanese national with ties to a designated terrorist organization.

Mariam Taha Thompson, 62, held a top-secret government security clearance prior to her February 2020 arrest and admitted to passing information she believed would be provided to Hezbollah – a terrorist organization backed by Iran.

Thompson will serve 23 years in prison.

“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,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips said Wednesday. “Let today’s sentence serve notice that there are serious consequences for anyone who betrays this country by compromising national defense information.”

Thompson admitted to starting a romantic relationship in 2017 with her unindicted co-conspirator through a video chat feature on a secure app.

The Minnesota native learned her co-conspirator had a family member in the Lebanese Ministry of Interior and was allegedly given a “ring” by Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hezbollah, according to a statement by the Department of Justice. 

By late 2019, Thompson was assigned to a Special Operations Task Force facility in Iraq when the U.S. increased pressure on Hezbollah forces through a series of airstrikes.

The strikes resulted in the death of top Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Suleimani on Jan. 3, 2020.  Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the founder of the Iraqi Hezbollah branch, known as Kata’ib Hezbollah was also killed. 

Following the death of Suleimani, Thompson’s co-conspirator asked for information on the “human assets” who helped with the killing of the chief commander.

Thompson passed along true names, personal identification data, background information, and photographs of clandestine assets. 

She further provided the Lebanese national with operational cables detailing information provided by the individuals assisting the U.S. government. 

Thompson passed along the identities of “at least eight clandestine human assets” and “at least 10 U.S. targets”. 


In addition, she provided her Hezbollah contact with U.S. “tactics, techniques and procedures” in its fight against Hezbollah forces. 

“Unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic; it is criminal,” FBI Counterintelligence Assistant Director Alan Kohler, Jr. said following the sentence. “By knowingly distributing classified information that would be passed onto a designated foreign terrorist organization, Mariam Thompson put our national defense in danger.”

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