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Formal Charges In Al Qaeda GI Case

A National Guardsman is accused of trying to pass intelligence to U.S. military personnel who were posing as al Qaeda operatives, allegedly telling the phony terrorists that "I share your cause."

Spc. Ryan G. Anderson is charged with three counts involving alleged attempts to supply intelligence to the enemy. He was charged Feb. 12, but the Army did not immediately release that information until Wednesday.

Anderson, 26, was arrested last Thursday, just days before he was to leave for duty in Iraq.

Anderson was taken into custody without incident as part of a joint investigation by the Army, Department of Justice and the FBI, involving in part monitoring of Anderson's activities after he allegedly used an Internet chat room to volunteer his services to al Qaeda.

The Uniform Military Code says attempts to aid the enemy can be punishable by death. The charges do not allege that Anderson ever actually passed information to real members of al Qaeda, the terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden.

In the first count, Anderson, also known as "Amir Abdul Rashid," is alleged to have attempted to provide information about U.S. Army troop strength, movements, equipment, tactics and weapons systems, as well as methods of killing U.S. Army personnel and vulnerabilities of Army weapons systems and equipment.

Anderson is also alleged to have communicated by "oral, written and electronic communication" to the supposed "terrorists" that "I wish to meet with you, I share your cause, I wish to continue contact through conversations and personal meetings."

The second charge alleges Anderson passed sketches of the M1A1 and M1A2 tanks, as well as a computer disc with such personal IDs as his passport photo, weapons card and military ID card.

The last charge alleges he "wrongfully and dishonorably" provided information on Army troop strength, movements and equipment.

A military defense lawyer has been appointed for Anderson, but Lt. Col. Stephen Barger refused to identify the lawyer. Any questions for the lawyer have to be passed along through Army spokesmen, Barger said, adding that neither Anderson nor his lawyer had any statement to make Wednesday.

Anderson was arrested Feb. 12, just weeks before his brigade was to leave for duty in Iraq. He had reported to Fort Lewis for active duty on Nov. 15. The conduct alleged in the charges occurred between Jan. 17 and Feb. 10, the documents indicated.

Barger refused to say whether the investigation is continuing or whether others might be involved. He also refused to discuss how Anderson's activities came to the Army's attention or how the Army set up the sting that led to his arrest. Anderson is being held at Fort Lewis.

Anderson, of Lynnwood, Washington, is a tank crew member from the Fort Lewis-based 81st Armor Brigade. The 2002 Washington State University graduate converted to Islam in college. He joined the Guard on May 15, 2002.

Anderson complained in a November 2002 letter to the Herald of Everett about bigotry in the United States.

"In my three years as an observant Muslim, I've encountered nothing but kindness, patience, courtesy and understanding from them," he wrote. "On the other hand, I have experienced bigotry, hatred and mindless rage from so-called 'educated thinkers' here in the U.S."