Army Documents Explain That Computer Expert Christopher Glenn Stole Secret Files
Photo by Colin via Wikipedia Commons
It has all the makings of a big-screen thriller. You've got a globetrotting computer expert who once worked for Blackwater and continued to get high-security clearance from the U.S. military despite past run-ins with authority. His wife, a young expat Iraqi. U.S. military locations in hot spots such as Iraq and Honduras. And not only allegations of Snowden-esque computer high jinks involving government secrets but claims of sex trafficking and the abuse of minors at a harem in a walled Honduran compound.
Thirty-four-year-old Christopher Glenn recently pleaded guilty in federal court to a number of charges related to the above allegations. His wife, Khadhraa Glenn, 28, pleaded guilty in October to her own part in the massive federal indictment, which targeted the couple in February 2014. And although the pleas essentially close the door on this weird case, there are still a lot of questions swirling around -- especially when you dig into the details.
Christopher Glenn is accused of hacking military emails and information while working as a private contractor in Honduras. Khadhraa -- an Iraqi by birth who has jumped around the world after the beginning of the 2003 invasion -- was charged with conspiracy to commit naturalization fraud. (After pleading guilty to that charge in October, she was given a time-served sentence.) Authorities concluded she had nothing to do with the hacking.
But this isn't the first time either Glenn was under fire from the U.S. government.
The couple were the subject of a hard look by military investigators when they worked at Camp Bucca between March 2008 and January 2009. According to court documents, both were working at the time for Blackwater, the controversial private security contractor.
Documents from a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command indicate that both Christopher and Khadhraa were investigated for theft, fraud in connection with computers, fraud and false statements, conspiracy to commit offenses, and false, fictitious or fraudulent claims at the base. According to a memorandum dated December 5, 2009, the allegations also pertained to two companies: Areeb Engineering & Logistics Mahulla, a Baghdad-based firm; and First Iraq Security Services, a company owned by Christopher Glenn and based out of a West Palm Beach address.
The documents note that while at Camp Bucca, Glenn allegedly "utilized a government computer for unauthorized activity, defrauded the government, and stole government property." From the report:
Investigation determined Mr. and Mrs. GLENN conspired together to defraud the U.S. Government in order to obtain services for themselves and employees of Areeb Engineering & Logistics (Areebel), not entitled to them. These unauthorized services included fuel, meals from the dining facility, troop medical center visits, and Army Post Office Services.
The memo concludes: "Mr. GLENN was interviewed wherein he admitted he fabricated a memorandum authorizing postal services, but denied all other allegations."
According to federal court documents, military investigators didn't refer the case to the Department of Justice for prosecution because the fraud was relatively small -- $17,000. But they were both booted from the camp.
But that run-in with Army investigators didn't keep either of the Glenns from securing sensitive military positions in the future.
Khadhraa Glenn lived in Australia from January 2009 to February 2012, according to court documents, where she worked for the Australian Agency for International Development. Then, in February 2013, Khadhraa enlisted in the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence Branch as a cryptologist specialist, according to an Army spokesman. She eventually withdrew her training in that field and entered the Quartermaster Corps as a petroleum laboratory specialist. She never saw overseas duty and was discharged in March 2014.
In court files, Khadhraa had claimed that she'd been separated from her husband since February 2013. "Prior to her arrest... she was planning on returning to Australia because Glenn was cheating on her."
(Indeed, in October 2014, after she had pleaded guilty to naturalization fraud, Khadhraa filed for divorce in Palm Beach County.)
While this was all going on, Christopher Glenn got a job with Harris Corp. for a post in Honduras in February 2012 as a system administrator at the U.S. Army Southern Command's Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base. Glenn's task was to implement Windows 7 on the base's computer system, a gig that got him secret security clearance -- again, even though he'd been the subject of a military investigation for hacking systems in Iraq.
According to facts laid out in Glenn's recent plea agreement, on Sunday, June 17, 2012, the tech went to a secure work area on the base. He signed on to the computer terminal and copied 17 files that contained "information classified up to the SECRET level" as well as the entire email account of the Joint Task Force Bravo's commander. The email stash "contained over 1,000 emails, many of which were classified up to the SECRET level."
Glenn then attempted to burn the information onto a DVD. The computers wouldn't let him do the unauthorized operation, so he disabled the security program. After burning the DVD, he "cleared the Windows event log files" to cover his tracks.
Despite his efforts, authorities picked up on the unauthorized access. By late August 2012, Army investigators seized hard drives and equipment from Glenn's work station. They didn't find the DVD, but by October Glenn's employment was terminated.
But the DVD did eventually turn up. This is where the story takes another hard, weird turn.
According to various Honduran media reports, Glenn didn't leave the country after his work at the base ended. Instead, he purchased a walled compound in Comayagua. The Honduran reports say Glenn married up to 20 young girls between the ages of 13 and 16 in false wedding ceremonies. The girls were lured to the compound with promises of jobs. Glenn apparently claimed to be part of an Islamic sect that allowed him to marry multiple times. Not only did he allegedly sexually abuse the girls but the reports say he sold off the minors for large sums of money.
When FBI agents landed in Honduras to investigate the hacking, they discovered the sexual abuse. In March 2014, Honduran police raided the house. In that raid, according to Honduran reports, they found an English-to-Arabic dictionary with various words underlined: love, kissing, cuddling, dancing, nudity, massage, company, and bed. Police also found multiple computers and servers in the house -- as well as the DVD containing the stolen U.S. military files.
It's unclear now what is happening with the Honduran investigation into Glenn's alleged harem and sex trafficking.
Last month, Glenn pleaded guilty to three of the counts he was facing -- unauthorized access, willful retention, and failure to deliver national defense information; exceeding authorized access to a computer, obtaining national defense information, obtaining national defense information, and willfully retaining that information; and conspiring to commit naturalization fraud. His sentencing is set for April 17.
Glenn's attorneys did not return a call for comment last week.
Obviously, even though the case appears to be finished, there are still a lot of questions -- what actually was going on in Honduras? What were the Glenns up to at Camp Bucca? Why did Glenn steal the emails? What was in the emails?
Know anything? Did you know Christopher Glenn or his wife, Khadhraa? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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