Diaspora

Former Baltimorean pleads guilty to terrorism charges

A Baltimore-raised man who authorities say traveled to Somalia and became a fighter for an extremist group pleaded guilty Friday to federal terrorism charges in New York.

Prosecutors say 32-year-old Maalik Jones trained with and supported al-Shabab, an ultra-conservative Islamic militant group. The group seeks to run Somalia under a strict interpretation of Shariah law.

Raised in the heart of an African-American Muslim community in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Upton, Jones grew up a time when some young black Muslims sought opportunities to learn about their faith at home, and others to go overseas to study, according to a 2016 Baltimore Sun article. Jones’ family owned a home where Division Street crosses Islamic Way. Jones reported in court documents that he lived in the house, which is just around the corner from a mosque, for most of his early life.

He was educated at the Islamic Community School, a K-12 private school in a storefront on West North Avenue that claims to be the nation’s oldest institution of its kind.

Shortly after his arrest in January 2016, the FBI said Jones had made his way from New York through Morocco and Kenya to Somalia. It was there, the FBI said, that Jones linked up with al-Shabab.

He allegedly fought for almost four years as part of a commando team, and authorities say he participated in an attack on a Kenyan army outpost in 2015 in which two Kenyan soldiers were killed.

Jones was turned over to U.S. authorities by Somali authorities, who arrested him in December 2015 as he allegedly tried to get on a boat to travel to Yemen.

According to court documents, he confessed to FBI agents that he fought Kenyan government soldiers in a battle until he was injured.

The FBI said he admitted he was paid $100 monthly by al-Shabab while he worked for them from August 2011 to December 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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