It is extremely important to ensure that the United States does not allow Islamic terrorists from foreign nations to enter the country — but what about the ones who are radicalized here?
According to Reuters, a Maryland man pleaded guilty to supporting the radical Islamic terrorist group Al Shabaab. He stated that he traveled to Somalia to go through military training with the group.
32-year old Maalik Alim Jones pleaded guilty to three criminal counts. He admitted that he was involved with terrorist attacks with Al Shabaab, which is a branch of Al Qaeda. He stated that he knew his actions “were a violation of the laws of the United States.”
Reuters also reports that Jones agreed to relinquish his right to appeal sentences that are less than 50 years. He could potentially serve the rest of his life in prison.
Jones was charged for his crimes in January of 2016. Prosecutors stated that Jones was born and raised in Maryland. In 2011, he traveled to Kenya. Shortly after, he traveled by land to Somalia, where he joined an Al Shabaab training camp.
For three months, the group taught Jones how to read and interpret the Qu’ran and use a variety of weapons — including the AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenades. After his training was complete, he joined Jaysh Ayman, Al Shabaab’s specialized fighting force. With this group, he participated in attacks in Kenya. Prosecutors claimed that Jones was involved in a battle with Kenyan soldiers in the town of Afmadow.
On December 7, Somali authorities captured Jones as he attempted to obtain a boat to travel to Yemen. Shortly after, he was extradited to the United States.
Al Shabaab is a branch of terrorist group Al Qaeda. They are currently based in Somalia, but they have also carried out attacks in Ethiopia and Kenya. According to BBC News, Al Shabaab means “The Youth” in Arabic. The grouped came out of the youth wing of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts, which reigned over Mogadishu in 2006 until they were defeated by the Ethiopian military.
BBC states that there have been a significant number of reports indicating that foreign jihadis are traveling to Somalia to join the terrorist organization. Many of these individuals are from the United States and Europe.
Al Shabaab currently has between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.The group’s objective is to overthrow Somalia’s current government and install leadership that will impose strict sharia laws onto the population. In the areas they control, they have already subjected the citizenry to their brutal form of Islamic law.
While there is certainly a threat from terrorists affiliated with groups like ISIS coming from overseas, homegrown terrorism has arguably become an even greater threat to the United States. Most of the Islamic terrorist attacks that have been carried out on our soil were perpetrated by people who were born here.
The government must ensure that they are implementing strategies that can help us identify and neutralize these threats. Otherwise, we are making innocent civilians vulnerable to more attacks.