FORT LEWIS, Wash. - A National Guardsman was arrested Thursday and accused of trying to provide information to the al Qaida terrorist network, the Army said.
Defense officials speaking on the condition of anonymity said Spc. Ryan G. Anderson, 26, signed onto extremist Internet chat rooms and tried to get in touch with al-Qaida operatives, offering the organization information on U.S. military capabilities and weaponry.
It is unclear how the 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, the officials said.
Anderson, from Lynnwood, became a Muslim during the last five years, officials said.
Army Lt. Col. Stephen Barger said Anderson 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."
Barger said Anderson was taken into custody without incident as part of a joint investigation by the Army, Justice Department and FBI. He was being held at the Fort Lewis Regional Corrections Facility near Tacoma.
Barger declined to give any details on the arrest, and it was not immediately clear if Anderson had a lawyer.
Jack Roberts, a neighbor, said he talked to Anderson's wife, Erin, after federal agents left the couple's apartment 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 WSU studied military history with an emphasis on the Middle East.
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.
There were initial reports that Yee was being investigated as part of an espionage probe, but he was never charged with spying.
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