New York City, New York — 31-year-old Maalik Alim Jones, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to providing material support and aiding the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group known as Harakat al-Shabaab al-Muhajideen based in the East African country of Somalia. Jones who was born in Maryland admitted to leaving his home in Baltimore and heading to New York City with the explicit intent to travel to Somalia and join the terror group al-Shabaab and receive military training before the Southern District of New York Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan on Friday.
Jones who now faces life in prison declared that “I knew that my actions were a violation of the laws of the United States,” following his guilty plea. According to the indictment from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) obtained by SOFREP through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Jones departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 28th 2011 to Casablanca, Morocco.
Then according to travel records obtained by FBI JTTF agents, Jones appeared eight days later in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he took a flight from Dubai International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya.
Jones then took several taxi’s and buses to northeastern Kenya where he crossed the border and disappeared into the rural al-Shabaab controlled region of southern Somalia, where he joined up with an al-Shabaab training cell where he learned how to use and operate AK-47 assault rifles along with rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers. Jones trained for three months in the terrorist training camp and upon completion of his training was assigned to what al-Shabaab refers to as a ‘specialized commando force’ known a Jaysh Ayman.
Jaysh Ayman which is comprised of mostly foreign fighters and Kenyan Muslims who operate along the Kenyan border and conduct cross border raids and targeted assassinations inside Kenya. Jaysh Ayman has perpetrated several cross-border assaults into Kenya against either civilian populations or the Kenyan Defense Force (KDF) in recent years.
It is still unknown how many al-Shabaab cross-border attacks Jones had participated in, however it is known that he was involved in an ambush on KDF forces in or near the southern Somalia city of Afmadow within the Lower Shabelle region of Juba that borders Kenya.
In that ambush, Jones was injured by, what the FBI report indicates, as a ‘missile,’ and was hospitalized for his injuries. Shortly afterward, Jones was arrested by Somali National Army forces on December 7th 2015 near the Somali port city of Barawa attempting to procure a boat to take him to Yemen.
Shortly after his arrest, law enforcement agents of the FBI JTTF were able to interview him and then upon Jones’s subsequent admission of being a U.S. citizen and an active ‘mujahid’ of the terror group al-Shabaab, took Jones into custody for extradition to the United States to face trial for providing support to a known foreign terrorist organization.
The then-NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton had this to say about Jones and his guilty plea in a DOJ press release, “Jones traveled to Somalia to fight on behalf of al Shabaab, learning to fire an AK-47 and rocket propelled grenades. He then used this training to attack the Kenyan government, fighting on behalf of this terrorist organization. The work by detectives and agents of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force should be commended, and the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York whose efforts led to this indictment.”
Feature image courtesy of: Associated Press