U.S. citizen Maalik Alim Jones has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab.
Jones, 32, left his wife back home and flew to Kenya from New York in 2011, traveling to Somalia via land once he had arrived in Kenya. Upon entering Somalia, Jones immediately began working with al-Shabaab and receiving military training from the terror group, including how to operate an AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenades, according to a Department of Justice press release.
“I knew that my actions were a violation of the laws of the United States,” Jones said.
Jones quickly moved up the ranks to join al-Shabaab’s special unit, known as Jaysh Ayman. As part of that unit, Jones attacked soldiers from the Kenyan government.
In total, Jones fought for four years as part of al-Shabaab.
Somali authorities arrested Jones in December 2015 as he was trying to head to Yemen, at which point he was sent back to the United States.
“Jones pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to al Shabaab, by traveling abroad to join and fight on behalf of the foreign terrorist organization for four years,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente. “I want to thank the many prosecutors, agents, and analysts who made this result possible.”
“As he admitted in court today, Maalik Jones traveled to Somalia, was trained by al Shabaab in the use of an AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenades and took up arms for four years as a terrorist fighter,” said New York Acting Attorney Joon Kim. “For his allegiance to this lawless, terrorist organization that vows to destroy America and its values, Maalik Jones been held to account in an American court of law. All that is left is for him to be sentenced for his crimes.”
Jones faces sentencing Jan. 25, 2018. The maximum sentence for material support of a terrorist organization is 15 years in prison, but that doesn’t include other charges, like receiving military training from al-Shabaab. Accounting for those other charges, Jones faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
Jones has been detained since December 2015.