The dating game is a tricky one, as any experienced dater will tell you. One minute you’re on cloud nine with the beau of your dreams, the next he’s saying he might not even travel to Turkey to see you after all, and trying to buy expensive firearms for his terrorist group even though you agreed you’d save to buy a house together!
Maria Bell, a 53-year-old Army veteran from New Jersey, knows all about that. Bell was arrested on Nov. 25 and charged with one count of “knowingly concealing the provision of material support and resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization,” according to the Department of Justice.
She has allegedly been in communication with fighters in Syria who belonged to “various factions” fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad since as early as March 2017, the DOJ press release says. But a criminal complaint focuses on her communication with one specific person in Syria who identified himself as a member of al Qaeda affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alias for the al-Nusra Front (ANF) — a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The complaint says that Bell “provided this HTS Member advice on the purchase of a weapon and ammunition, planned to meet him in Turkey, and sent money to him via intermediaries using Wester Union” before she gave him advice on buying guns and ammo.
Bell served in the Army National Guard from Nov. 1984 to June 1985, according to the complaint, and served on active duty from June 1985 to Jan. 1986. She “received an Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge deemed Good for Service in lieu of a Court Martial.”
But the complaint also includes several messages sent between Bell and her terrorist sweetheart that are too good to be true, and prove committed relationships everywhere take work, communication, and the occasional reminder that once you’re together in Syria everything will work out.
There was that time she told him she’d help him pick out some new firearms — “Pick your 3 favourites and then we select” — and he got a little ahead of himself.
Or that other time he reminded her that even terrorists need a little ego boost every now and then…
And who among us hasn’t poured out our hearts to our lovers about how lonely we are, because they’re in Syria with the leader of their terror organization but we’re just in stupid America where they don’t even care about him, and they respond “yeah.”
Isn’t it the worst when you fall for a guy and then find out he’s actually pretty controlling? And you’re all “stop telling me how to live!” and he’s like “fine you know what, you do you. I’m not even going to come to Turkey anymore like we planned.” The worst!
This part was just brutal.
Bell did attempt to travel to Turkey in Nov. 2018, the complaint says, though she was contacted by FBI agents at a New York City airport before she was able to board. She agreed to be interviewed and handed over an airline ticket which showed a destination of Istanbul, Turkey on Nov. 24, 2018. She was denied boarding, the complaint says.
That same year, between Feb. and Nov., Bell sent around $3,150 to an account “believed to be the brother” of the man she was messaging with. A number of other payments, which were unspecified in the complaint, were also sent to accounts controlled by her radical Romeo in Turkey or Syria.
She made more flight arrangements this year, booking a roundtrip reservation for Nov. 25 that would take her from New York City to Egypt, and ultimately to Turkey. But she was arrested at her home that day.
According to the DOJ, Bell faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison with a $250,000 fine. I can’t imagine a financial hit like that would bode well for her and her man’s plans of finally buying their dream home in Syria.