An American woman has been charged by federal prosecutors with trying to hide multiple attempts to send money to Al-Qaeda linked militants in Syria.
Maria Bell, 53, is accused of knowingly concealing her involvement in providing material support to Al-Nusra, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, according to Reuters. The Hopatcong, New Jersey, woman was scheduled to appear before a judge in Newark via video Wednesday afternoon, Reuters reported. (RELATED: REPORT: Man Pleads Guilty To Trying To Blow Up ATM, Almost Causing Catastrophic Explosion)
Sussex County Woman Charged with Concealing Terrorist Financing to Syrian Al-Nusra Front, a Foreign Terrorist Organization https://t.co/46x1URrxgr
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) November 25, 2020
Prosecutors allege that Bell began communicating with al-Nusra to advise them and facilitate money transfers using mobile phone apps starting around February of 2017. FBI agent Matthew Hohmann signed an affidavit claiming that Bell used encrypted apps to share information that could “support acts of terrorism,” Reuters reported.
Bell allegedly advised al-Nusra on communications, operational security and firearm purchases, per Reuters. Bell’s professional background reportedly includes specialized firearms training from her time serving on active duty in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. (RELATED: Double Bomb Blast In Afghanistan Reportedly Kills At Least 14, Dozens Wounded)
The affidavit claims Bell exchanged thousands of encrypted messages with an al-Nusra member she was in an online relationship with. She apparently planned to meet him in Turkey and wire transferred at least $3,150 to the group over the course of at least 18 payments. If convicted, she faces a maximum of ten years prison time and a fine of $250,000, according to Reuters.