A former Houston man arrested in Kenya last month was ordered held without bond Tuesday on charges that he joined with al-Qaeda to help overthrow the Somali government and form an Islamic state there.
Federal officials charged Daniel Joseph Maldonado, 28, a Muslim convert also known as Daniel Aljughaifi and Abu Mohammed, with undergoing military training with a terrorist organization and conspiring to use a destructive device.
Maldonado, a native of Boston, was returned to the United States on Monday night and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Calvin Botley Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney's office in Houston said. He was ordered held without bond until a detention hearing next week. Nancy Herrera, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said she was unsure whether Maldonado had an attorney yet.
Maldonado's arrest marks the first criminal prosecution of an American suspected of joining terrorists in Somalia, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein said in a statement.
According to the criminal complaint, Maldonado traveled from Boston to Houston in August 2005 and left Houston three months later for Cairo, Egypt. By December 2006, the complaint says, he was in Somalia and had joined with the Islamic Courts Union and elements of al-Qaeda to fight in a rebellion designed to overthrow the Somalian government and install an Islamic state.
The complaint says Maldonado was issued an AK-47 rifle and attended two military training camps at which members of al-Qaeda were present.
Maldonado was captured by the Kenyan military on Jan. 21 after two days of fleeing Ethiopian and Somalian forces. He was expelled by Kenya and turned over to U.S. officials for his return to Houston.
Maldonado told FBI agents in Kenya that he went to Somalia to fight "jihad" for a true Islamic government.
"I would be fighting the Somali militia, and that turned into fighting the Ethiopians, and if Americans came, I would fight them too," the complaint quotes Maldonado as telling the agents. He also told the agents he had "no problem" with killing Americans or with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S.
Although he underwent physical and firearms training with the Islamic Courts Union, he did not finish his training and fight because he contracted malaria. But the complaint says he participated in the interrogation of a flight attendant the group suspected of being a spy. Maldonando told the agents he threatened to kill the flight attendant, who was later killed by others.
Story courtesy of the Associated Press.
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