New Jersey woman accused of advising, sending money to Syrian terrorist

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A former American soldier from New Jersey communicated with and sent money to a self-identified member of a terrorist group based in Syria, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Maria Bell, of Hopatcong, used her Army and Army National Guard training to advise a Syrian terrorist on how to buy guns and ammunition.

According to the charging documents, the 53-year-old Bell used encrypted devices to communicate with a self-identified member of the Al-Nusra Front beginning in February of 2017.

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Authorities say she cited her professional experience to provide guidance concerning operational security issues, firearms purchases, and military knowledge.

She is also accused of sending money to him through Western Union, using an intermediary to conceal the source of the funds.

In one online conversation, as quoted in the complaint, Bell told him she is connected "to many revolutionaries."

She is charged with one count of knowingly concealing the provision of material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

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If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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