According to the U.S. Star-Spangled Banner, a woman in New Jersey was arrested this week for providing material support to a member of Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch. She said that she loved the member deeply, but she felt that the member controlled herself too much.
FBI agents arrested 53-year-old veteran Maria Bell at her home in New Jersey on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said. According to a criminal complaint, Bell got a ticket to Turkey via Egypt that day.
According to the report, this is the second time that the FBI has interrupted Bell’s plan to travel to Turkey around Thanksgiving. In 2018, she planned to fly from New York to Istanbul, but she was denied boarding after FBI agents questioned her at the airport.
During that trip, Bell planned to meet a man who claimed to be a member of Hay’at al-Sham in Syria, a terrorist organization identified by the United States and composed of al-Qaeda veterans. The indictment cites the contents of encrypted network information between the two people.
It is reported that Bell paid the man $3,150 in 18 times on the day before Thanksgiving in 2018 and hid the recipient information through the middleman.
But just before Thanksgiving, the two seemed to have an argument because the extremist believed to be named Abdullah Flayes refused to let her meet her family. Bell wrote: “I love you very much, but I have a hard time accepting how you guide my life. I am an independent American woman. If I weren’t the woman I am now, I can’t support you.”
Since February 2017, Bell has also advised the man on operational safety, communications, weapons, and ammunition purchases through thousands of messages on the app and social media, according to U.S. law enforcement.
The prosecutor said that Bell often mentioned her military experience. A criminal complaint claims that she served in the National Guard from November 1984 to January 1986 and in the Army.
The document does not mention Fryes’ name, but the online news video cited in the court record shows his identity. A video in late 2016 shows him wearing camouflage and bulletproof vest and holding a rifle, fighting against the Syrian government forces in Aleppo. In that video, he said he was a member of the “Sham Liberation Organization”.
At one point, Fryes warned that if U.S. warplanes attack extremist-controlled targets in support of the Syrian regime, “we will resume retaliation in New York.”
If convicted, Bell faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.