- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Army yesterday arrested a National Guardsman on suspicion that he attempted to give intelligence on the U.S. military to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network.

The soldier, Spec. Ryan G. Anderson, was taken into custody at Fort Lewis, Wash., near Tacoma, where his tank unit was preparing to deploy to Iraq to fight insurgents, including al Qaeda operatives.

An Army statement released at Fort Lewis said Spec. Anderson faces charges of aiding the enemy by wrongfully attempting to communicate and give intelligence to al Qaeda in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Spec. Anderson, 26, is a member of the 4,000-member 81st Armor Brigade and is a crewman on the 60-ton M1A1 tank.

It could not be learned what type of information he is accused of trying to pass to al Qaeda, but officials said it does not appear that any information was sent to the network.

A brigade member would know information about classified battlefield tactics.

The Associated Press reported that Spec. Anderson is a 2002 graduate of Washington State University who converted to Islam during the past five years.

It also reported defense officials as saying that Spec. Anderson “signed onto extremist Internet chat rooms.”

The 81st is one of several National Guard units being trained and organized to go to Iraq to replace about 120,000 soldiers headed home. When the rotation is completed this spring, National Guard and Reserve units will make up 37 percent of the U.S. force in Iraq.

“Specialist Anderson will be held at the Fort Lewis Regional Corrections Facility pending criminal charges,” the Army statement said.

The Army said Spec. Anderson was the subject of a joint investigation by the Army, the Justice Department and the FBI.

The 81st contains two tank battalions, a mechanized infantry battalion, artillery and an intelligence unit. The brigade is a mix of soldiers from Washington, California and Minnesota.

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