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Posted: 5/12/2004 4:15:23 PM EDT

Hearing Begins For Soldier Accused Of Trying To Aid Terrorists

POSTED: 2:29 pm PDT May 11, 2004
UPDATED: 2:26 pm PDT May 12, 2004

SEATTLE -- A Montana city judge who doubles as an Internet sleuth helped catch a National Guard member accused of trying to help al-Qaida, according to testimony given at a military hearing for the guardsman Wednesday.


Judge Shannen Rossmiller of Conrad, Mont., testified she was monitoring the Web for signs of extremist or terrorist activity last October when she came across a posting on a Muslim-oriented site by an "Amir Abdul Rashid."

Through a string of Internet searches, she said, she linked the name and e-mail address to Spc. Ryan G. Anderson, a Muslim convert and Fort Lewis-based National Guardsman now charged with five counts of trying to provide the terrorist network with information about U.S. troop strength and tactics as well as methods for killing American soldiers.

Rossmiller was the first witness called when Anderson's military hearing began Wednesday. She identified herself as a member of 7-Seas.net, a global organization that tracks terrorist activity and provides the information to government and military officials.

After she saw the posting from "Rashid," she posted a phony call to jihad against the United States. Rashid wrote back.

"He was curious if a brother fighting on the wrong side could join or defect," she said.

After a series of e-mails, Rossmiller contacted the Homeland Security Department, which put her in touch with the FBI.

Anderson, 26, was arrested in February after he allegedly tried to pass information to undercover Army investigators. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, those convicted of trying to aid the enemy can face the death penalty.

Wednesday's proceeding at this Army base south of Tacoma was an Article 32 hearing, similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian court. After hearing the Army's evidence against Anderson, the investigating officer, Col. Patrick J. Reinert, will recommend whether he should face a court martial. Reinert's recommendation will go to the base commander at Fort Lewis, Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano, who will decide whether Anderson will be tried.

Initially, Anderson was charged with four counts of trying to communicate with terrorists. The Army added a fifth charge last month, which was not disclosed to the media until Wednesday. It alleges that at one point, Anderson told undercover military personnel: "I wish to desert from the U.S. Army. I wish to defect from the United States. I wish to join al-Qaida, train its members and conduct terrorist attacks."

Anderson has spent the last three months jailed at the Regional Corrections Facility at Fort Lewis, where his brigade was based.

Among those at Anderson's hearing was Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Fort Lewis who until recently was embroiled in an investigation of suspected espionage at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. In March, the Army dismissed all criminal charges against Yee, including a charge of mishandling classified material.

Yee refused to say, and Army officials refused to disclose, why he attended the hearing.

Like Yee, Anderson was raised a Lutheran and later converted to Islam. Anderson grew up in Everett, where classmates at Cascade High School described him as a paramilitary enthusiast who was passionate about guns. Anderson began studying Islam while attending Washington State University.

He graduated from WSU with a history degree in 2002 and joined the National Guard. He is a tank crew member with the 81st Brigade, which is deployed in Iraq.

Soldiers with Anderson's job typically operate the M1A1 Abrams, the Army's main battle tank.

US Soldier Was Al Qaeda Supporter, Court Told

Wed May 12, 2004 04:41 PM ET

By Chris Stetkiewicz
FORT LEWIS, Washington (Reuters) - A U.S. Army enlisted man, Specialist Ryan Anderson, shared his plans to join al Qaeda and attack U.S. forces in Iraq with a Montana woman posing as a Muslim sympathizer, she told a military court on Wednesday.

Anderson was troubled at the prospect of fighting "on the wrong side" as his unit prepared to ship out to Iraq last February, Shannen Rossmiller, a judge from Conrad, Montana, who joined a private group monitoring Muslim extremists, said.

She testified at the start of a two-day hearing to determine if Anderson should go before a court martial, where he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Rossmiller said she contacted Anderson by email after reading a posting on the web site www.bravemuslims.org reading "...soon, very soon, I will have an opportunity to take my own end of the struggle."

Anderson, who called himself Amir Abdul Rashid, feared he would be killed before he could correct the "mistake" of joining the U.S. military and was troubled by the prospect of facing "a brother" on the Muslim side, Rossmiller testified.

Rossmiller said she reassured him: "It's never too late to do Allah's will."

Anderson, 26, is a tank crew member from Lynnwood, Washington, near Seattle, who converted to Islam and has written several letters to newspapers strongly opposing gun control.

A military judge began two days of hearings on Wednesday to determine whether he would face a formal court-martial at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, where his unit is based.

Anderson sat quietly in a small, packed courtroom, wearing desert brown fatigues and glasses and close-cropped hair, taking notes throughout the proceedings.

U.S. Muslim Army Chaplain James Yee, who has had charges of possessing documents and acting as a spy for detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba dropped against him, was in the media overflow room watching the proceedings as they were shown on a video projector.

Yee declined to talk to reporters and officials said he would not be available for comment. They could not say whether he was ministering to Anderson.

Rossmiller said she found Anderson's personal profile posted on a web page, which showed a photo of a man wearing a red headscarf and toting a military rifle.
She became interested in extremists after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijack attacks in the United States and began to spend several hours a day monitoring web traffic.

She later formed a private, nonprofit group performing "counterintelligence" called "Seven Seas," with a web address of www.7/seas.net.

Group members contacted the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI when they encountered potentially dangerous people, Rossmiller said.

Undercover agents posing as al Qaeda operatives later contacted Anderson, who passed on diagrams of M1A1 and M1A2 Abrams battle tanks with instructions on their vulnerabilities, military prosecutors have said.

U.S. officials have said al Qaeda, accused of the Sept. 11 attacks and others on U.S. facilities around the world, is also active in Iraq.
Link Posted: 5/12/2004 4:27:18 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/12/2004 4:32:07 PM EDT

Group members contacted the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI when they encountered potentially dangerous people,

Wonder how many boards do this ?
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