A former Baltimore resident who left the U.S. for Somalia in 2011 to become a member of a specialized fighting unit within al Shabaab was indicted Monday on charges related to aiding the terrorist group.
Maalik Alim Jones received training from the group, that included learning to fire an AK-47 and rocket propelled grenade, and participated in attacks Kenyan soldiers, according to information included in a criminal complaint filed in federal court. Mr. Jones was apprehended by Somali forces in Baraawe, Somalia on Dec. 7 while trying to procure a boat to take him to Yemen, according to the complaint.
The 31-year-old was indicted on five criminal counts, including the providing, of material support to al Shabaab and the receipt of military-type training from the terrorist group. He faces life in prison if convicted of the charges filed against him.
According to FBI agent Mary Boese, who wrote the 15-page criminal complaint, Mr. Jones was seen in two separate video recordings that were recovered from the body of an al Shabaab member who was killed during a June attack on the Kenyan Defense Force in which two Kenyan soldiers were killed. Agent Boese writes that the videos, which depict a sermon and a “reunion” celebration, were depicting al Shabaab fighters engaged in activities to prepare for the June attack.
“This case highlights the international nature of terrorism and the criminal actions taken in pursuit of attacks against others,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez.
A report from Al Jazeera in December indicates that an American named Abdul Malik Jones surrendered himself to Somali forces “after angering its leadership with a pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” While man’s name mentioned in the Dec. 7 report is similar to that of Mr. Jones, it was not immediately clear whether the report was describing his actions. The criminal complaint makes no mention of any alignment to the Islamic State nor does it say that Mr. Jones surrendered himself.