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Feds: Soldier Tried to Give Info to Al Qaeda

A National Guardsmen who stands accused of attempting to provide military data to Usama bin Laden (search )’s terror network was arrested Thursday, the Army said.

Spc. Ryan G. Anderson (search ), 26, signed onto extremist Internet chat rooms and tried to contact members of Al Qaeda, offering them information on U.S. military capabilities and weaponry, according to Defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Army Lt. Col. Stephen Barger (searchsaid 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 (searchterrorist network."

The young guardsmen was nabbed in a sting operation that involved federal and military investigators posing as "terrorists," Defense officials said. In the course of discussions with these agents, the tank crew member provided information about "vulnerabilities" of equipment the U.S. Army is using in Iraq, or is planning to ship over with newly deployed troops, according to the officials.

Barger said Anderson was taken into custody without incident as part of a joint investigation by the Army, Justice Department and FBI. He was being held at the Fort Lewis Regional Corrections Facility near Tacoma.

Barger declined to give any details on the arrest, and it was not immediately clear if Anderson had a lawyer.

Jack Roberts, a neighbor, said he talked to Anderson's wife, Erin, after federal agents left the couple's apartment Thursday.

"She was pretty damned shocked, as I was," Roberts told the Herald of Everett.

Phone messages left by The Associated Press at the couple's apartment were not immediately returned Thursday.

Anderson is a tank crew member from the National Guard's 81st Armor Brigade, a 4,200-member unit set to depart for Iraq. It is the biggest deployment for the Washington Army National Guard since World War II.

Washington State University spokeswoman Charleen Taylor said Anderson was a 2002 graduate with a degree in history. Anderson graduated from high school in Everett in 1995, the Herald reported, and at WSU studied military history with an emphasis on the Middle East.

The brigade has been training at Fort Lewis since November. Eighty percent of the soldiers -- 3,200 -- are from Washington state, and 1,000 are from guard units in California and Minnesota.

It includes two tank battalions, a mechanized infantry battalion, engineers, support troops, artillery and an intelligence company.

Anderson is the second Muslim soldier with Fort Lewis connections to be accused of wrongdoing related to the war on terror.

Capt. James Yee, 35, a former Fort Lewis chaplain, is accused of mishandling classified information from the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Yee ministered to Muslim prisoners there.

There were initial reports that Yee was being investigated as part of an espionage probe, but he was never charged with spying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.