Craig Benedict Baxam, 24, of Laurel, is accused of attempting to join Al-Shabaab, designated by the U.S. state department as a foreign terrorist organization, after serving in the U.S. Army for four years, including deployment to Iraq.
Baxam, who graduated from Laurel High School in 2005, was stopped in Kenya on Dec. 23, said prosecutors, and sent back to the U.S., where he was arrested Friday.
“I never would have picked him for something like this,” said Laurel High principal Dwayne Jones, who was an assistant principal when Baxam attended the school. “There were some others we worried about. But he was a pretty good student, but quiet.”
Jones said Baxam participated in ROTC and the 2004 “It’s Academic” team, a high school quiz program.
- In an affidavit, investigators said that Baxam was traveling to Somalia via Kenya to live under Islamic law and fight to defend Al-Shabaab if it was threatened by Western forces.
- The document also said that Baxam was carrying more than $600 to give as an offering to Al-Shabaab.
- The affidavit said that in interviews in Kenya, Baxam told investigators that he knew Al-Shabaab was a designated terrorist organization, and that he was prepared to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Baxam’s initial appearance in court was held Monday afternoon at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to give further comment on the case, stating that the investigation is still in its earl
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As of Wednesday, 11 January, a judge ordered him held without bail until Tria.