(HOUSTON) Daniel Joseph Maldonado, a.k.a Daniel Aljughaifi, a United States citizen convicted of receiving training from a foreign terrorist organization has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, Don DeGabrielle, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Joseph Billy, Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division, announced today.
The 10- year sentence is the maximum statutory penalty for receiving military training from a terrorist organization. U. S. District Judge Gray H. Miller handed down the maximum sentence during a hearing held in Houston this morning. The prison term is to be followed by a three year term of supervised release. Additionally, the court imposed a $1000 fine.
“Those who would consider training with enemies of our national security or otherwise feel inclined to align themselves with foreign agents of international discord should consider the very real consequences of federal prison for their actions like the ten years of incarceration awaiting Mr. Maldonado,” said U. S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle.
Assistant Attorney General Wainstein said, “We cannot tolerate our own citizens joining the ranks of our enemies and foreign terrorists. Any American who does so can expect swift prosecution and a severe sentence.”
“By attending a terrorist training camp, Daniel Maldonado betrayed his country and endangered the national security of the United States and its allies with his support of the ICU and al Qaeda,” said Assistant Director Joseph Billy, Jr., FBI Counterterrorism Division. “The FBI will continue to work with our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities to aggressively pursue suspected terrorists and disrupt their activities.”
Daniel Joseph Maldonado, a.k.a. Daniel Aljughaifi, 28, pleaded guilty in April 2007 admitting he had traveled from Houston to Africa in November 2005 and then on to Somalia in December 2006 to join the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and elements of Al Qaeda to fight “jihad” against the Transitional Federal Government to establish an independent Islamic State in Somalia.
While in Somalia, Maldonado was provided an AK-47, equipped with military combat uniforms and boots in Mogadishu, and participated in training camps in Kismaayo and Jilib, Somalia. The camps included physical fitness, firearms and explosives training, all in preparation to go to the front to fight for the ICU. Al Qaeda members were present at the training camps. ICU and al Qaeda, a recognized foreign terrorist organization, worked together to train fighters in the camps to fight jihad to establish an independent Islamic state in Somalia.
Maldonado was captured by Kenyan military forces on January 21, 2007 as he fled to avoid Ethiopian and Somalian forces. Expelled by Kenyan officials, Maldonado was turned over to American authorities and flown to Houston accompanied by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Maldonado has been in federal custody since his return to the United States.
The investigation leading to the conviction in this case was conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force including special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Houston Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Gary Cobe.