Published February 19, 2004
FORT LEWIS, Wash. – Spc. Ryan G. Anderson (search), a National Guardsman accused of trying to aid the Al Qaeda terror network, has been formally charged, the Army said.
Anderson, 26, a Muslim convert, was arrested last week after U.S. officials discovered he allegedly tried to give military data to Al Qaeda (search). If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
According to the charging documents, Anderson disclosed information about U.S. troop strength, movements, equipment, tactics, weapons systems and methods of killing soldiers to U.S. military personnel he believed were members of the terror network. He also allegedly shared sketches of tanks and a CD with copies of his identification documents.
He was charged Feb. 12 — the day of his arrest — with three counts involving attempts to supply intelligence to the enemy, but that information was not made public until Wednesday, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Stephen Barger said.
In each count, Anderson was accused of "attempting to provide intelligence to the enemy" by disclosing information or making contact with U.S. military personnel.
Attempts to aid the enemy can be punished by death, according to the Uniform Military Code (search).
The charges did not allege that Anderson ever actually passed information to real Al Qaeda members.
Anderson, 26, of Lynnwood, is a tank crew member from the Fort Lewis-based 81st Armor Brigade (search). The 2002 Washington State University graduate converted to Islam in college. He joined the Guard on May 15, 2002, Barger said.
Barger refused to say whether the investigation was 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.
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 ID's 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 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.
The alleged conduct occurred between Jan. 17 and Feb. 10, the documents indicated.
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."
Anderson's arrest last week shocked his hometown of Everett, Wash.
Jennifer Seratte, who went to high school with Anderson in Everett, told Fox News last week she was shocked when she heard of her friend's arrest. Seratte said she did not know that Anderson had converted to Islam.
"He'd always been pro-Christianity and pro-American" in school, Seratte said.
But another acquaintance of Anderson remembers him differently.
The arrest is "shocking, but it's not too shocking, knowing how Ryan is," said Nathan Knopp, a high school friend.
"He was always a paramilitary type of guy, really into military weaponry," Knopp told The Everett Herald last Thursday. "Ryan's kind of a weird type of guy who made up a lot of stories that seemed really far-fetched."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.