HOPATCONG, N.J. (AP) — A former American soldier communicated with and sent money to a self-identified member of a terrorist group based in Syria, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Maria Bell, 53, of Hopatcong, was arrested at her home by FBI agents. She was due to make her initial court appearance via video conference Wednesday afternoon, and it wasn’t known if she’s retained an attorney.
Bell is accused of providing material support to the al-Nusra Front, which operates in northwest Syria and is also known by other aliases.
Starting in February 2017, prosecutors said she used encrypted applications to communicate with and provide advice to the group.
In communications 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, using an intermediary to conceal the source of the funds. The group member was not identified.
If convicted, Bell could face up to 10 years in prison.
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