On Wednesday, a New Jersey woman who previously served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army National Guard was arrested for providing financial support and acting as an authenticated consultant to an al-Qaeda group in Syria, the Justice Department reported.
The Sussex County, NJ, woman named, Maria Bell, a/k/a “Maria Sue Bell,” 53, of Hopatcong, New Jersey, was arrested at her home and charged with one count of knowingly concealing the provision of material support and resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey announced.
According to documents filed in Court, beginning at least as early as March of 2017, Bell used mobile applications to communicate with and provide advice to fighters based in Syria who were members of various factions fighting the Assad regime.
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The complaint is centered on her communications with, and provision of money to, one specific fighter based in Syria, a self-identified member of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alias for the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization the al-Nusra Front (ANF).
Notably, Bell sent currency to this fighter via Western Union using an intermediary to conceal the source of the funds, and also provided him advice on weapons and ammunition.
Bell regularly used Encrypted Applications to communicate with one HTS member with whom Bell had an online relationship. It shows that Bell provided this HTS Member advice on the purchase of a weapon and ammunition, planned to meet him in Turkey, and sent money to him via intermediaries using Western Union (subsequent to providing him advice on the purchase of weapons and ammunition).
Court records showed Bell served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard for a total of 14 months between 1984 and 1986 and received an “other than honorable discharge” in lieu of a court martial, WNBC reported.
According to Bell’s LinkedIn page, she has been employed by Atlantic Health System in Morristown for just over nine years.
Atlantic Health System said that Bell has been suspended, WNBC reported.
The charge of concealment of terrorist financing to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean C. Sovolos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit with the assistance of the Department of Justice, National Security Division Counterterrorism Section.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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