NJ woman gave Syrian terrorists military advice and money, feds say
A Hopatcong woman was arrested at her home Wednesday morning on charges she sent money to a Syrian foreign terrorist organization, and provided advice about weapons and ammunition.
Maria Sue Bell, 53, used an encrypted app to send thousands of messages since February 2017 to communicate to a member of the al-Nusra Front, fighting the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. The ANF is also known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and by other names.
Bell communicated with a contact described as "user 1" and cited her specialized weapons training while on active duty to help with security issues, firearms purchases, and military knowledge, according to Carpenito.
The U.S. Attorney said she used an intermediary to send money via Western Union. "User 1" also had Bell send funds individuals in Turkey and Syria who are supporters of HTS, Carpenito said.
Bell was in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard between 1984 and 1986 and received an Other Than Honorable discharge deemed Good for Service in lieu of a court martial, according to the affidavit in the case. The affidavit did not reveal details of the discharge.
According to the affidavit, Bell was planning to leave Wednesday from New York for a trip to Egypt with a final destination of Turkey to meet "User 1."