Sussex County Woman Charged with Concealing Terrorist Financing to Syrian Al-Nusra Front, a Foreign Terrorist Organization

A Sussex County, New Jersey, woman, Maria Bell, a/k/a “Maria Sue Bell,” 53, of Hopatcong, New Jersey, was arrested at her home today and charged with one count of knowingly concealing the provision of material support and resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey announced.

She is scheduled to appear by videoconference this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor.

According to documents filed in Court, beginning at least as early as March of 2017, Bell used mobile applications to communicate with and provide advice to fighters based in Syria who were members of various factions fighting the Assad regime.   The complaint is centered on her communications with, and provision of money to, one specific fighter based in Syria, a self-identified member of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alias for the the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization the al-Nusra Front (ANF).  Notably, Bell sent currency to this fighter via Western Union using an intermediary to conceal the source of the funds, and also provided him advice on weapons and ammunition. 

The charge of concealment of terrorist financing to a designated foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Assistant Attorney General Demers and U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean C. Sovolos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit with the assistance of the Department of Justice, National Security Division Counterterrorism Section.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Specifically, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued ICT SCRM-specific guidance in 2015 and OMB has required agencies to implement ICT SCRM since 2016. Until agencies implement all of the foundational ICT SCRM practices, they will be limited in their ability to address supply chain risks across their organizations effectively. Federal agencies rely extensively on ICT products and services (e.g., computing systems, software, and networks) to carry out their operations. However, agencies face numerous ICT supply chain risks, including threats posed by counterfeiters who may exploit vulnerabilities in the supply chain and, thus, compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organization's systems and the information they contain. For example, in September 2019, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reported that federal agencies faced approximately 180 different ICT supply chain-related threats. To address threats such as these, agencies must make risk-based ICT supply chain decisions about how to secure their systems. GAO was asked to conduct a review of federal agencies' ICT SCRM practices. The specific objective was to determine the extent to which federal agencies have implemented foundational ICT SCRM practices. To do so, GAO identified seven practices from NIST guidance that are foundational for an organization-wide approach to ICT SCRM and compared them to policies, procedures, and other documentation from the 23 civilian Chief Financial Officers Act agencies. This is a public version of a sensitive report that GAO issued in October 2020. Information that agencies deemed sensitive was omitted and GAO substituted numeric identifiers that were randomly assigned for the names of the agencies due to sensitivity concerns. The foundational practices comprising ICT SCRM are: establishing executive oversight of ICT activities, including designating responsibility for leading agency-wide SCRM activities; developing an agency-wide ICT SCRM strategy for providing the organizational context in which risk-based decisions will be made; establishing an approach to identify and document agency ICT supply chain(s); establishing a process to conduct agency-wide assessments of ICT supply chain risks that identify, aggregate, and prioritize ICT supply chain risks that are present across the organization; establishing a process to conduct a SCRM review of a potential supplier that may include reviews of the processes used by suppliers to design, develop, test, implement, verify, deliver, and support ICT products and services; developing organizational ICT SCRM requirements for suppliers to ensure that suppliers are adequately addressing risks associated with ICT products and services; and developing organizational procedures to detect counterfeit and compromised ICT products prior to their deployment. GAO also interviewed relevant agency officials. In the sensitive report, GAO made a total of 145 recommendations to the 23 agencies to fully implement foundational practices in their organization-wide approaches to ICT SCRM. Of the 23 agencies, 17 agreed with all of the recommendations made to them; two agencies agreed with most, but not all of the recommendations; one agency disagreed with all of the recommendations; two agencies neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendations, but stated they would address them; and one agency had no comments. GAO continues to believe that all of the recommendations are warranted, as discussed in the sensitive report. For more information, contact Carol C. Harris at (202) 512-4456 or harrisCC@gao.gov.
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