A U.S. magistrate has charged a 31-year-old U.S. citizen with providing material support to the terrorist group al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked extremist group operating primarily in southern Somalia and the African Great Lakes region.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a statement Monday, identified the suspect as Maryland resident Maalik Alim Jones, alleging he traveled to Somalia for training from al-Shabab, before taking up arms as a "terrorist fighter with an organization that has declared the United States a target."
Authorities say Jones traveled from New York to Kenya, with stopovers in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, before traveling by land to Somalia, where they allege "he was trained to kill and destroy communities." U.S. officials say the suspect was trained in automatic weaponry and rocket-propelled grenade warfare at an al-Shabab camp in Somalia.
The U.S. statement also alleges that Jones was apprehended while attempting to enter Yemen, where Saudi-allied Sunni fighters are battling Iran-backed Shi'ite rebels for control of the impoverished country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Authorities allege Jones also appeared with other al-Shabab fighters in at least two recruitment videos that were recovered from an al-Shabab fighter.
No pre-trial hearing dates were announced Monday, but the Department of Justice said the case will be prosecuted in the southern judicial district of New York.