- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

Noble: Hal Koster, who was honored this week by the American Legion for keeping the tradition of Friday Night Dinners alive for wounded soldiers.

The former co-owner of Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse became something of a local hero last year for the Friday Night Dinners that he provided free for servicemen recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In April, the Vietnam veteran and his business partner, Marty O’Brien, lost their lease at the Capitol Hilton and the fate of the dinners was uncertain. Thanks to Mr. Koster, our wounded soldiers have continued to enjoy steak dinners, good company and a way to forget about their injuries, at least for a short time.

On Wednesday, the American Legion honored Mr. Koster for his admirable philanthropic work. Aleethia, the nonprofit organization he started several years ago to help raise money for the Friday Night Dinners, is run solely by volunteers and operates with zero overhead. Every penny raised goes toward the mission of supporting “the newly injured troops with short-term therapeutic recreation… [including] meals, movies, sightseeing, and visits to interesting sites.” Many soldiers who participate in the dinners have said that the opportunity to simply have a night on the town made a remarkable difference in the process of returning to civilian life, especially after serious injuries. In addition, Aleethia provides financial help to soldiers and their families in need.

For giving new meaning to “Support the troops,” Hal Koster is the Noble of the week.

Knave: Hassan Abujihaad, a former Navy sailor who was arrested this week on charges of aiding terrorists.

Police arrested Hassan Abujihaad, an Islamic convert formerly known as Paul Hall, in Phoenix this week. While on active duty on the USS Benfolds in 2000 and 2001, Mr. Abujihaad allegedly sent e-mails detailing the locations (and other classified information) of a fleet of Navy ships to a London-based organization called Azzam Publications. Babar Ahmed, one of the recipients of Mr. Abujihaad’s messages, is the leader of a terrorist cell and is currently under federal indictment.

According to the Army Times, Mr. Abujihaad has been “charged with supporting terrorism with intent to kill U.S. citizens and transmitting classified information to unauthorized people.” The e-mails not only gave accurate information regarding the movements of the U.S. fleet — information he had access to with his level of security clearance — but Mr. Abujihaad also discussed the potential weaknesses of the ships. Adding insult to injury, he praised Osama bin Laden and the terrorist attack on the USS Cole.

For disclosing classified information to terrorists, Hassan Abujihaad is the knave of the week.


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