A 26-year-old American, who served in U.S. military intelligence, made a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Baltimore, Md., on Monday, according to law enforcement officials.
Craig Benedict Baxam, age 26, of Laurel, Md., was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release after the wannabe jihadist pleaded guilty to destroying records that might be used in a terrorism investigation. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz.
“The investigation of Mr. Baxam was a collaborative effort with our law enforcement partners both within the United States and overseas,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt.
According to his plea agreement, on December 23, 2011, Baxam was apprehended by investigators from Kenya's Anti-Terrorism Police Unit as he traveled north to Somalia to join al Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda.
FBI agents subsequently interviewed Baxam while he was jailed in Kenya. The suspect told the FBI agents that because of his prior service in the U.S. Army, especially his training and experience in military intelligence, he knew of the U.S. government’s capabilities in tracing Internet protocol addresses and other investigative techniques, according to an Examiner news story.
Baxam admitted that before leaving the U.S., he smashed his personal home computer into pieces and threw them into a garbage dumpster. He confessed to the FBI interrogators that he didn't want any information left behind, according to the prosecution.
He also confessed that he purchased a round-trip plane ticket to Kenya rather than a one-way ticket, even though he had no intention of returning to the U.S., in order not to arouse the suspicion of the FBI and U.S. military.
Baxam and the government agreed that if the court accepted the plea agreement, Baxam should be sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz agreed and imposed that sentence immediately following his acceptance of Baxam’s guilty plea.