A former U.S. soldier trained in cryptology and intelligence was charged Monday with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization after he flew to Africa in an unsuccessful bid to join al-Shabab, a group with links to al-Qaeda, authorities said.
Craig B. Baxam, 24, of Laurel told FBI agents that he had no contacts with al-Shabab and only a haphazard plan to connect with the group when he boarded a flight out of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport last month, according to a federal criminal complaint. But he said he shared al-Shabab’s religious beliefs — at least as he had read them on an Islamic Web site — and he considered himself obligated to move to land that the group controlled in Somalia.
Baxam appeared in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on Monday. Kenyan authorities arrested him Dec. 23 near Mombasa, according to authorities. He later told FBI agents that he had been trying to join al-Shabab mainly because he wanted to live somewhere that rigorously adhered to sharia, or Islamic, law, court papers say.