Ex-US Soldier Busted Trying to Join Somali Militants
Md. man flew to Kenya in attempt to join al-Qaeda-linked group
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2012 3:00 AM CST
Al-Shabaab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, Somalia.    (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

(Newser) – A former US Army soldier is in federal custody for a half-baked plan to join al-Shabab militants in Somalia. Prosecutors say Craig Baxam, 24, decided he wanted to live under Sharia law and tried to make his way to Somalia from Kenya carrying a Koran and a few hundred dollars. He was arrested on a bus in northern Kenya and handed over to US authorities, who have charged with him attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, the Washington Post reports.

Baxam, who joined the military in 2007 and was trained in cryptology and intelligence, told investigators that he had had no contact with al-Shabab. He says he became a secret Muslim last year after reading an Islamic website while serving in South Korea. He told agents that he was looking forward to "dying with a gun in my hand" and that he felt that al-Shabab's practice of beating people caught on the street during prayer time was "awesome." He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.