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Maryland Man Charged With Joining Somali Terror Group

Image: Members of al Shabaab ride in a pick-up truck outside Somalia's capital Mogadishu

Members of al Shabaab, al Qaeda-linked insurgents, ride in a pick-up truck after distributing relief to famine-stricken internally displaced people at Ala Yaasir camp at Km50 outside Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 3, 2011. © Feisal Omar / Reuters / REUTERS

A Maryland man has been charged with traveling to Somalia and receiving training from al Shabaab, a terror group allied with al-Qaeda.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Maalik Alim Jones traveled to Somalia in 2011 to train, work and fight with members of the group.

The FBI says he learned to shoot an AK-47 assault rifle and fire rocket-propelled grenades. Court documents say he became a member of al Shabaab's specialized fighting force, known as Jaysh Ayman, and fought against Kenyan government soldiers.

The documents say he appeared with other al Shabaab fighters in at least two videos recovered from an al Shabaab fighter.

He was arrested December 7 by Somali authorities, who said he was trying to get a boat to go to Yemen. He was interviewed there by FBI agents, who said he admitted joining the terror group.

He was brought to the United States a short time later and appeared before a federal judge December 19, but his arrest and the charges have only now been revealed.

"Maalik Alim Jones was charged with providing material support to al Shabaab and receiving training from the terrorist organization," said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin. "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."