Another American Muslim soldier has been arrested. From AP, with thanks to the many people who sent this to me:
National Guardsman tried to reach al-Qaida operatives through the Internet, offering the group information on U.S. military capabilities and weaponry, defense officials said.
Spc. Ryan G. Anderson, 26, was arrested Thursday, just days before he was to leave for duty in Iraq.
He was being held at Fort Lewis “pending criminal charges of aiding the enemy by wrongfully attempting to communicate and give intelligence to the al-Qaida terrorist network,” said Army Lt. Col. Stephen Barger. It was not immediately clear if Anderson had a lawyer.
Anderson, from Lynnwood, was taken into custody without incident as part of a joint investigation by the Army, Department of Justice and the FBI, Barger said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, defense officials said Anderson signed on to extremist chat rooms and tried to get in touch with al-Qaida operatives. It is unclear how the U.S. government got wind of his alleged offer, but authorities began monitoring his communications, the officials said. It does not appear he transmitted any information to al-Qaida.
He became a Muslim during the last five years, officials said.
Jack Roberts, a neighbor, said he talked to Anderson’s wife, Erin, after federal agents left the couple’s apartment on Thursday.
“She was pretty damned shocked, as I was,” Roberts told the Herald of Everett.
Phone messages left by The Associated Press at the couple’s apartment were not immediately returned Thursday.
Anderson is a tank crew member from the National Guard’s 81st Armor Brigade, a 4,200-member unit set to depart for Iraq. It is the biggest deployment for the Washington Army National Guard since World War II.
Washington State University spokeswoman Charleen Taylor said Anderson was a 2002 graduate with a degree in history. Anderson graduated from high school in Everett in 1995, the Herald reported, and at studied military history with an emphasis on the Middle East at Washington State.
The brigade has been training at Fort Lewis since November. Eighty percent of the soldiers–3,200–are from Washington state, and 1,000 are from guard units in California and Minnesota.
It includes two tank battalions, a mechanized infantry battalion, engineers, support troops, artillery and an intelligence company.
Anderson is the second Muslim soldier with Fort Lewis connections to be accused of wrongdoing related to the war on terror.
Capt. James Yee, 35, a former Fort Lewis chaplain, is accused of mishandling classified information from the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Yee ministered to Muslim prisoners there.