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Soldier faces possible charges for allegedly trying to aid al-Qaida | (KRT) An Army National Guardsman on active duty at Fort Lewis, Wash., was arrested Thursday and faces possible charges of attempting to provide information to al-Qaida terrorists, Army officials said.

The officials said Spc. Ryan G. Anderson, 26, a tanker with the Washington State Army National Guard's 81st Armored Brigade, might be charged with espionage. He's being detained at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma.

Army officials, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity, told Knight Ridder that Anderson, who proclaimed his Muslim faith five years ago, had been under intense surveillance by federal law enforcement and Army counterintelligence agents for several weeks. The officials allege that Anderson used Internet chat rooms in an attempt to find al-Qaida operatives, offering information and his services.

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Anderson, a 2002 history graduate of Washington State University, was called to active duty last November along with 4,000 other soldiers from Washington state, California and Minnesota. The unit then trained at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and is to deploy to Iraq in March.

A military chaplain who at first was suspected of spying for al-Qaida at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, now is facing a much less serious charge of mishandling classified information, and may face unrelated adultery and pornography charges. Separately, an airman who worked as a translator at Guantanamo originally was charged with 30 offenses but 13 of them have been dropped.

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© 2004, Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services