U.S. serviceman is connected to Al Qaeda

A National Guardsman was arrested and accused of trying to provide information to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, the U.S. Army has announced. Army Lt.-Col. Stephen Barger said yesterday that Specialist Ryan 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 Qaeda terrorist network."

Anderson, 26, is a tank crew member from the National Guard's 81st Armour Brigade, a 4,000-member unit scheduled to depart for Iraq for a one-year deployment, the biggest for the state's Army National Guard since World War II. He is to remain at the base near Tacoma. Barger would say nothing more about the arrest, or about what information allegedly was given to Al Qaeda or how it was provided. Anderson converted to Islam five years ago and studied military history with an emphasis on the Middle East at Washington State University.

The arrest came the same day Pakistan's president Gen. Pervez Musharraf told military officers in Islamabad suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban militants might be using its territory to stage attacks in Afghanistan.

"On the western border ... ... Let us not bluff ourselves ... whatever is happening from Pakistan must be stopped. That is what we (as U.S. allies) are trying to do," the general said. The U.S. military has announced a spring offensive against Islamic rebels in Afghanistan, informs &to=http://www.thestar.com' target=_blank>TheSTAR

The arrest followed a brief investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and Army officials after they said they learned that Specialist Anderson used a computer to try to contact Al Qaeda cells in the United States and, as one Army official said, "offer his services." The Army now has several weeks for the unit commander and a military lawyer to determine whether there is probable cause for formal charges to be filed against Specialist Anderson. If probable cause is found, he would face the equivalent of a grand jury investigation, after which the commander would decide whether to initiate a court-martial, reports &to=http://www.nytimes.com' target=_blank>NYTimes

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