War on Terrorism

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Former Army Soldier Indicted for Attempting to Provide Material Support to al Shabaab

Defendant Arrested in Kenya While En Route to Somalia

GREENBELT, MD—A federal grand jury returned an indictment today charging Craig Benedict Baxam, age 24, of Laurel, Maryland, with attempting to provide material support to al Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Lisa O. Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The indictment alleges that Craig Baxam intended to travel to Somalia and join the terrorist organization al Shabaab,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Mr. Baxam was arrested in Kenya before he reached Somalia, and there is no allegation that anyone assisted him.”

According to the indictment, Baxam served in the U.S. Army from 2007 through July 2011.

The indictment alleges that sometime after July 2011, while living in Maryland, Baxam decided to travel to Somalia to join and fight for al Shabaab, which Baxam knew to be a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to court documents, al Shabaab is a militia group that uses intimidation and violence to undermine Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG). In February 2008, the U.S. Department of State designated al Shabaab, aka Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, aka The Youth, as a foreign terrorist organization, stating that al Shabaab has committed or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism that threaten the security of the United States.

The indictment alleges that Baxam cashed out his retirement savings, purchased a plane ticket to Kenya, and traveled in Kenya toward its northern border with Somalia, all in his effort to join and fight for al Shabaab. On December 23, 2011, Kenyan Anti-Terrorism police arrested Baxam near Mombasa, Kenya, for attempting to travel to Somalia to join al Shabaab.

Baxam faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. No court appearance has been scheduled. Baxam has been detained since his arrest on a criminal complaint on Friday, January 6, 2012, upon his return to Maryland after traveling to Africa.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI’s Maryland and New York Joint Terrorism Task Forces for their work in the investigation and recognized the Department of Justice Counterterrorism Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their assistance in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Welsh, who is prosecuting the case with assistance from Robert J. Sander of the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice.

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