US Citizen Pleads Guilty to Training with Al Qaeda
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
A United States citizen, who trained to fight jihad along with elements of Al Qaeda to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, has been convicted of receiving training from a foreign terrorist organization, according to a Justice Department announcement on Friday.
At a hearing on Friday, April 20, Daniel Joseph Maldonado, a.k.a. Daniel Aljughaifi, 28, pleaded guilty to the sole charge in an report filed on March 30, 2007 and unsealed Friday. During the hearing, Maldonado admitted he had traveled from Houston, TX to Africa in November 2005 and then on to Somalia in December 2006 to join the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and elements of Al Qaeda to fight â€œjihadâ€ against the Transitional Federal Government to establish an independent Islamic State in Somalia.
While in Somalia, Maldonado was provided an AK-47, equipped with military combat uniforms and boots in Mogadishu, and participated in training camps in Kismaayo and Jilib, Somalia. The camps included physical fitness, firearms and explosives training all in preparation to go to the front to fight for the ICU.
Al Qaeda members were present at the training camps. ICU and Al Qaeda, a recognized foreign terrorist organization, worked together to train fighters in the camps to fight jihad to establish an independent Islamic state in Somalia.
â€œFor an American to travel overseas to train as a violent jihadist along side al Qaeda elements who are focused upon threatening the security of our nation, is decidedly disturbing and definitely illegal,â€ said United States Attorney Don DeGabrielle. â€œMaldonadoâ€™s conviction should serve as a strong warning to any American who considers joining forces with terrorist groups here or abroad.â€
â€œToday’s guilty plea is the first involving an American who joined forces with Islamic extremist fighters in Somalia and should serve notice to others who would travel overseas to wage violent jihad,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“The FBI will continue to work diligently with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners here in Houston, throughout the United States, and abroad to disrupt, dismantle and deter terrorist organizations operating in America and around the world,” said Roderick Beverly, Special Agent in Charge of the Houston office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Maldonado was captured by the Kenyan military on January 21, 2007 as he fled into Kenya to avoid Ethiopian and Somalian forces. Expelled by Kenyan officials, Maldonado was turned over to American authorities in February 2007. Accompanied by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Maldonado was returned to Houston to face criminal prosecution.
Maldonado has remained in federal custody without bond since his return to the United States and will remain in custody pending sentencing. United States District Judge Gray H. Miller, who presided over today’s hearing and convicted Maldonado, has set sentencing for June 29, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. A conviction for receiving training from a foreign terrorist organization carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, without parole, and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation leading to charges in this case was conducted by the FBI Houstonâ€™s Joint Terrorism Task Force particularly by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and officers of the Houston Police Department. This investigation culminated with the additional assistance of the Department of State and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Gary Cobe.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.