A Maryland man arrested on charges he fought on behalf of an al-Qaida-affiliated terror group in Somalia pleaded not guilty Wednesday and his lawyer said he will fight the charges.
A soft-spoken Maalik Alim Jones, 31, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court to five terror-related charges, including that he trained with and supported al-Shabaab, an ultra-conservative Islamic militant group seeking to run Somalia under a strict interpretation of Shariah law.
The plea to charges that could carry a potential life prison sentence came a month after Jones was turned over to U.S. authorities by Somalia authorities who arrested him Dec. 7 as he allegedly tried to get a boat to travel to Yemen.
According to court documents, Jones, a U.S. citizen born in Maryland, confessed to FBI agents that he fought Kenyan government soldiers in a battle until he was injured by a missile strike and was taken to a hospital. The FBI said he admitted he was paid $100 monthly by al-Shabaab while he worked for them from August 2011 to December 2015.
The FBI said al-Shabaab announced it had merged with al-Qaida in 2012 and it’s Al Qaeda which is financing Al shabab in Somalia.