LawFuel.com – Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William J. Bratton, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the indictment of MAALIK ALIM JONES based upon his alleged support of al Shabaab, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization based in Somalia that is allied with al Qaeda. JONES, a United States citizen, was presented before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas on December 19, 2015, pursuant to a Criminal Complaint. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, Maalik Alim Jones traveled to Somalia, received military training from al Shabaab, and took up arms as a terrorist fighter with an organization that has declared the United States a target. Now, as ever, we are determined to protect the people of this country from the murderous designs of terrorist organizations. Having allegedly sworn allegiance to al Shabaab, a terrorist organization bent on destroying America, Maalik Jones will now face American justice in a Manhattan federal court.”
Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “Maalik Alim Jones was charged with providing material support to al Shabaab and receiving training from the terrorist organization. The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to hold accountable those who seek to provide material support to terrorists.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “This case highlights the international nature of terrorism and the criminal actions taken in pursuit of attacks against others. As alleged herein, Maalik Alim Jones, from Maryland, joined a terrorist organization in Somalia, traveled from New York to Kenya, through Morocco and the UAE, where he was trained to kill and destroy communities. Recently he was caught trying to get to Yemen. We applaud the thorough investigation by the agents and task force officers on FBI’s JTTF, who were able to identify his activities, stop his plans, and bring him here to face the U.S. justice system.”
Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “As alleged, Jones traveled to Somalia to fight on behalf of al Shabaab, learning to fire an AK-47 and rocket propelled grenade. 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.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment, and the Complaint As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Indictment and the Complaint and the description of the Indictment and Complaint set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation. that was unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
In February 2008, the U.S. Department of State designated al Shabaab as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Al Shabaab has used violent means to, among other things, destabilize the government of Somalia, quell the Somali population, and force the withdrawal of foreign troops in Somalia. A former leader of al Shabaab, whose exhortations were echoed by the leadership of al Qaeda, called for foreign fighters to join al Shabaab in a “holy war” in Somalia. As a result of al Shabaab’s recruitment efforts, men from other countries – including the U.S. – have traveled to Somalia to engage in violent jihad. Since al Shabaab’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in February 2008, it has made several public statements demonstrating its intent to harm U.S. interests. In February 2012, the then-Emir of al Shabaab swore allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Emir of al Qaeda, stating that al Shabaab “will hereby merge into al Qa’ida.”
Al Shabaab also maintains a specialized fighting force, known as Jaysh Ayman, that is responsible for carrying out commando-style attacks and cross-border raids in which fighters, among other things, travel across the land border between Somalia and Kenya to target individuals and carry out attacks against civilian and military targets in Kenya.
In or about July 2011, JONES traveled via commercial aircraft from New York to Kenya, with stopovers in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. After arriving in Kenya, JONES traveled by land from Kenya to Somalia, where he trained, worked, and fought with al Shabaab in Somalia. Among other things, JONES received military training at an al Shabaab training camp, where he learned to operate an AK-47 assault rifle and rocket-propelled grenades. JONES also became a member of al Shabaab’s Jaysh Ayman, and participated in combat against soldiers of the Kenyan government on behalf of al Shabaab.
JONES has appeared with other al Shabaab fighters in at least two videos that were recovered from an al Shabaab fighter. In one of the videos, JONES possessed a firearm, and is seen with several al Shabaab fighters who participated in a June 14, 2015, attack on a Kenyan Defense Force base in Lamu County, Kenya, during which two Kenyan soldiers were killed.
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JONES, 31, of Maryland, is charged with five counts: (1) conspiracy to provide material support to al Shabaab; (2) providing, and attempting to provide, material support to al Shabaab; (3) conspiracy to receive military-type training from al Shabaab; (4) receipt of military-type training from al Shabaab; and (5) possessing, carrying, and using firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence. If convicted, JONES faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on the charges. In addition, Count Five carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison. The minimum and maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the Court.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department. He also expressed gratitude to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. Department of State, for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Sean S. Buckley and Andrew J. DeFilippis, and National Security Division Trial Attorney Josh Parecki, are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment and Complaint are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.