— U.S. Army Col. Kassem Saleh seemed like a dream — a Taliban-battling soldier with the soul of a poet who wrote intoxicating love letters home.
The trouble was, he was doing a lot of writing. Saleh was allegedly romancing and even proposing to some 50 women across the United States and Canada whom he had met through online dating sites including www.Christiansingles.com, Match.com and tallpersonals.com. Worse still, he is reportedly married.
''You are my world, my life, my love and my universe," Saleh allegedly wrote in one cyber love note.
Another woman said she received this e-mail from Saleh:
"You and the thought of you have created a desire so deep within my soul that I cannot fathom a time I will ever be without you."
The women found out about the multiple proposals after an Internet news site ran a story about a woman in Washington state who said she was waiting to become Saleh's wartime bride. Soon, calls were pouring into KNDU-TV from other women who said that they were engaged to Saleh.
Romancing the 'Monk Warrior'
Robin Solod, 42, of New York, is one of the women who says she was duped.
Seven months ago, she met Saleh through the www.tallpersonals.com dating site, and they began an online courtship. She felt that Saleh's letters were more romantic than the works of poets William Butler Yeats or Robert Browning, and she soon fell in love, Solod said.
Then, five months ago, the 50-year-old colonel proposed. Solod said yes. Then she read about another of his "fiancées" on the Internet.
"I was crushed … the total deceit, the betrayal," Solod said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
Solod said Saleh told her that the reports of his many proposals were false. "Now, this girl from Brooklyn was born at night, but not last night," said Solod in response to Saleh's excuse. She says he never apologized to her.
Some of the women say Saleh claimed to be divorced and called himself the monk warrior because he hadn't had sex in 10 years. Though she was impressed with his action-packed adventures in the military, it was Saleh's flowery words that drew Solod.
"The letters were totally intoxicating," Solod said. "He totally swept me off my feet," she said.
Army Investigating Colonel
The women say Saleh interspersed the e-mails with phone calls from what he termed "the front lines" in Afghanistan. While he was proposing to some of the women, he reportedly remained lawfully married to a wife who continues to share a home with him in Fayetteville, N.C.
The Army is investigating the incidents, though it is unclear at this point whether his alleged actions violated either criminal law or Army regulations. Saleh is a 29-year Army veteran who helped bring down the Taliban, and later helped lead reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. He is currently stationed with the Army's 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Solod said she would like to see Saleh court-martialed. She said that he sent her a photo of a motorcycle with a bomb on the back which she understood to be a piece of confidential military information. Solod came out in public about the issue because she said that the Army was such a "sexist" institution that she feared there would be no reprisal for Saleh from the military.
What Phone Call?
At least two of the women had already purchased wedding gowns. Now, the women are comparing e-mails and finding that Saleh must have cut and pasted the same copy into multiple letters.
Another woman who said she met Saleh through www.tallpersonals.com, where he claimed he had been 6'5" until parachute jumps caused him to shrink down to 5'9", said she became suspicious when Saleh slipped up in a e-mail to her.
In it Saleh wrote "when we got off the phone in the middle of the night," but the woman, who wanted her name withheld, said he had never called her.
Solod said she got caught up in the romance, and even her therapist warned her that something was awry after he proposed. She is now dating another man she met through a dating site, but she says she is much more careful now. Still, Solod says she would like to see Saleh come to terms with what he did to her and the other women who believed he loved them.
"He has to have accountability," Solod said. "I would refer him to the American Psychiatric Association. This is a man that has no sense of conscience," she said.