Bragg Soldier Arrested on Immigration Charges
(03/23/06 -- FORT BRAGG) (WTVD) -- Eyewitness News has learned that immigration officials have arrested a Moroccan national who was an enlisted soldier at Fort Bragg, but in the U.S. illegally.
Federal officials say Hicham Benkabbou, 27, has been weaving his way around immigration laws for the past six years. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested him last month, but Benkabbou has been in the U.S. since 1998. He came as a tourist and stayed by getting married more than once. His first marriage was to a Florida woman in January 2000.
"She was interviewed and readily admitted that she was trying to help Mr. Benkabbou out," said Tom O'Connell, of ICE.
O'Connell says in November 2002 and January 2003, Benkabbou applied to marry two other Florida women, but never did. Then, in September 2003, Benkabbou became a bigamist, when he wed a woman from Maryland.
"He never got divorced from the first wife before he became married to the fourth applicant, or the fourth wife," O'Connell said.
It was the fourth marriage that Benkabbou used to get "conditional resident status" and join the U. S. Army in June 2004. At Fort Bragg Benkabbou was an E-4 paratrooper with B Company, working in supply areas with a solider's access to some sensitive areas on the base.
"He certainly rises higher up on our radar screen than somebody's that's putting down pine straw on the base," O'Connell said.
Federal officials say Benkabbou is not on any terror watch list and has no known ties to terrorist networks.
"He said he wanted to serve his country, or the country of the United States," O'Connell said. Major Tom Earnhardt issued this statement from Fort Bragg: "...as America's strategic response force, our command takes issues like these very seriously, and we are working with investigation officials to resolve the matter in a timely fashion." Benkabbou is being held in Atlanta, awaiting a deportation hearing. Until the case is settled, he remains a member of the U.S. Army.
- Photos: 10 suspects caught in the act
- Family displaced in Fayetteville house fire
- Dad of teen charged with grandmother's murder speaks out
- Suspect arrested in Sanford man's death
- Police seek security balance for Boston Marathon
- Ex-Christie aides: Withdraw traffic jam subpoenas
- Pistorius trial: Stunning testimony in 1st week
- No consensus on how to notify data breach victims
- North Carolina deciding again on film break future
- Putin defends separatist drive in Crimea as legal