Baxam joined the Army in 2007 and left the service in 2011. During his time in uniform, he completed eight months of training in cryptology and intelligence.
He completed a tour in Baghdad, and re-enlisted once. In the summer of 2010, Baxam left for a one-year deployment to Korea. But he separated from the Army before the end of that stint.
According to the Justice Department, Baxam “secretly” converted to Islam while still serving as a U.S. solider, according to the Justice Department.
So-called home-grown terrorists are, according to some U.S. officials and lawmakers, a growing problem.
The Justice Department alleges that Baxam decided to move to Somalia to join al-Shabaab and live under its version of Sharia law, which teaches strict rules.
In early 2008, the State Department dubbed the group “a foreign terrorist organization.”
“This arrest is highly illustrative of the progress the international law enforcement community has made in working together to rapidly share resources and information in order to stop terrorism,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely said in the statement. “FBI Special Agents in Africa, working alongside our Kenyan police partners, worked together to stop an individual who is now alleged to have been on his way to join a major terrorist group. This spirit of cooperation in fighting terrorism continues to transcend borders around the world.”
Baxam could face a 15-year prison sentence, and is slated to appear in a U.S. district court in Maryland on Monday afternoon.