A former U.S. soldier was arrested Wednesday in connection to providing financial support to a self-identified member of al-Nusra Front, a designated terrorist organization based in Syria, according to federal prosecutors.
Maria Bell, 53, of Hopatcong, N.J., was arrested at her home by FBI agents. She was due to make her initial court appearance via video conference Wednesday afternoon.
It wasn’t immediately clear if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
Bell is accused of providing material support to the al-Nusra Front, which operates in northwest Syria, according to the Department of Justice. The group also goes by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, and was at one point linked to Al Qaeda.
Starting in February 2017, prosecutors said Bell used encrypted applications to communicate with and provide advice to the group.
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In communicating with group members, Bell cited her professional experience in specialized weapons training while on active duty in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, prosecutors said. She also offered to provide guidance concerning operational security issues, weapons purchases and military knowledge.
Authorities said Bell communicated with and provided money to one self-identified group member via Western Union, using an intermediary to conceal the source of the funds. The group member was not identified.
If convicted, Bell faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction, Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see.Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path). (The Cow 16-18 )