In November of 2020, Maria Bell, a 54-year-old former US Army soldier from Hopatcong, was arrested and charged with supporting a terrorist organization. The arrest was reported in an article on New Jersey 101.5 by Dan Alexander.

Now she admits it. How could a woman who served as a soldier in the US Army as well as the national guard turn into a turncoat, allegedly giving advice and financial support to a designated terrorist organization in Syria? In my opinion, only love can make someone crazy like that.

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Maria Bell sent money to Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a Syrian organization that has been named to the State Department's foreign terrorist organization list. It was originally a part of Al-Qaeda group but five years ago branched off into its own entity. According to an article on

Court records say that she used her military expertise in operational security communications and firearms purchases to provide funds and support to the terrorist organization. In fact, according to the article records also state that she supplied the group with $3,150 using encrypted apps through many different messages and sent messages to people in Turkey and Syria who were allied with the group.

As you read the report, you wonder how this could possibly happen. How could a woman who steadfastly defended our country for many years turn like this? But then you get the reason: Bell was believed to be in a romantic relationship with a fighter for the group between 2017 and 18, according to a criminal complaint.


In one message she allegedly said that the fighter/love interest has brought her to Islam and introduced her to a “place and the people that make her peaceful and happy.”

Bell will be sentenced in November and faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Would she have been sympathetic to the terrorist cause had she not fallen in love with a member of HTR? No one knows.

But love does make people do crazy things.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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