Former US soldier held for trying to join terror outfit

Former US soldier held for trying to join terror outfit

A former US Army soldier has been arrested and charged with attempting to travel to Somalia to join terrorist group Al Shabaab.

Craig Benedict Baxam, 24, was arrested last week at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport as he returned from a failed effort to get to Somalia, CNN reported.
According to a criminal complaint filed in court, Baxam departed the US Dec 20 en route to Kenya and tried to travel on to Somalia from there. He was arrested by Kenyan authorities Dec 23 on suspicion of terrorism.

Baxam was interviewed twice by FBI officials while he was in Kenya. He told them he wanted to join Al Shabaab, live under Sharia law and never intended to leave Somalia.
He said he was "looking for dying with a gun in my hand" and that  said he would be guaranteed a place in paradise, the report said.

Prosecutors said Baxam secretly converted to Islam just days before leaving the army in July last year.

He joined the US Army in 2007 and underwent eight months of advanced training for cryptology and intelligence.

After his training, Baxam was deployed to Baghdad and to South Korea where he separated from the service a month before the completion of his deployment.
Baxam reportedly told the FBI he did not have names of any contacts to reach out to in Somalia but that he "trusted in Allah".

"He was asked what he thought his role would be with Al Shabaab, to which he stated that he would just be another body there," according to the court document.

Prosecutors said Baxam cashed out his retirement savings account of $3,600 dollars and purchased a round-trip ticket to Kenya. He allegedly planned to give Al Shabaab some amount between $600 and $700 dollars as an offering upon his arrival, authorities said.
If convicted, Baxam faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

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