US soldier 'tried to aid al-Qaida'

A military court martial has convicted a US National Guard soldier of trying to aid al-Qaida.

    Judge Shannen Rossmiller aims to 'catch terrorists online'

    Specialist Ryan Anderson, 26, "was found guilty on all charges" on Thursday. A convert to Islam, he was reported to have attempted to make contact with al-Qaida through internet chat rooms in May 2002. 

    He was nabbed by Shannen Rossmiller, a municipal judge from Montana, who in her spare time sought to "catch terrorists on the internet".

    Judge Rossmiller told prosecutors that while she was monitoring a website devoted to hardline Muslims she came across an email posting from one "Amid Abd al-Rashid" - which turned out to be Anderson. 

    Rossmiller, masquerading as a hardline Muslim, began to correspond with Anderson. When she found out that he was a soldier, she contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Judge Debra Boudreau ordered a closed-door hearing on Andreson at the Fort Lewis army base, in southern Washington.

    The military decided not to seek the death penalty. 

    Testimonies

    Three army intelligence officials testified on Tuesday: Rene Gonzalez, John Roee and Christopher Wallace. Gonzalez and Roee spoke about surveillance, and Wallace spoke about the al-Qaida network, Costello said. 

    Army officers Burt Whitlow and Ricardo Romero testified on Monday that they presented themselves as al-Qaida members to confirm Anderson's leanings, and set up a meeting at a book store in February. 

    At the meeting Anderson handed them his passport photograph, a computer diskette and other material. 

    Anderson was arrested after a second meeting, just weeks before his unit was scheduled to deploy to Iraq.

    SOURCE: AFP


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