Former Fort Bragg soldier charged with support of terrorist group
Posted January 9, 2012
Updated January 10, 2012
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Craig Benedict Baxam, a former soldier who served briefly at Fort Bragg as a member of the 18th Airborne Corps, was arrested Friday and charged with providing material support to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, according to the FBI.
In the complaint filed against Baxam, FBI agent John B. Phillips details the former soldier's training, service and separation from the Army, his conversion to Islam and his recent trip to Africa. The FBI arrested Baxam Friday as he re-entered the United States.
Baxam, 24, was born and raised in Maryland and joined the Army in 2007. After basic training, he completed eight months of advanced training for code-breaking and intelligence, then was assigned to Fort Bragg.
He served there for a month before he was deployed to Baghdad. He was deployed to Korea in August 2010 and left the Army less than a year later.
Baxam went to Kenya in December, with the intention of traveling on to Somalia, according to the complaint. Kenyan police, in cooperation with U.S. agents, detained and questioned him.
According to the complaint, "Baxam wanted to make his 'hijra' to Somalia and defend Sharia law under Al-Shabaab." The document defines 'hijra' as a migration to an Islamic land. Baxam said he planned to stay in Somalia because he found living in the United States "oppressive," according to the complaint.
Although Baxam never made it to Somalia, the evidence that he intended to go there, and that he took a withdrawal from his bank account with intent to present the money to Al-Shabaab, constitute enough to charge him with an attempt to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization. If he is found guilty, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Al-Shabaab, an organization operating mostly in opposition to Somalia's official but transitional federal government, was designated a terrorist organization and threat to the United States in 2008.
“Mr. Baxam was caught in Kenya before he reached Somalia, and there is no allegation that anyone assisted him,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.