US man pleads guilty to fighting for Somali militants

A file photo taken on March 5, 2012 shows Al-Qaeda linked al-Shebab recruits walking down a street in the Deniile district of the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, following their graduation. (AFP)
Updated 10 September 2017
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US man pleads guilty to fighting for Somali militants

WASHINGTON: A US man who joined Somalia’s Al-Shabab insurgents and allegedly attacked Kenyan peacekeepers in Somalia pleaded guilty Friday to supporting a foreign terror group.
Baltimore native Maalik Alim Jones, 32, was accused of joining the rebels in 2011 where he took small arms training and joined attacks by Al-Shabab’s Jaysh Ayman commando unit against African Union troops sent to help stabilize the long-troubled country.
Jones spent four years in the country and appeared together with other Al-Shabab fighters in videos recovered from a cellphone on the body of a Al-Shabab fighter killed in an attack.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence that he had trained in using assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades while with the Al-Shabab militants, an officially designated foreign terrorist organization by the US.
Jones, who according to the Baltimore Sun grew up in the city’s African-American Muslim community, was arrested by Somali authorities in 2015 as he tried to board a boat to Yemen.
He was then repatriated to the United States where he first pleaded not guilty to terror-related charges.
“As he admitted in court today, Maalik Jones traveled to Somalia, was trained by Al-Shabab in the use of an AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenades and took up arms for four years as a terrorist fighter,” said Acting US Attorney Joon H. Kim in a statement.
“For his allegiance to this lawless, terrorist organization that vows to destroy America and its values, Maalik Jones been held to account in an American court of law.”
Maalik faces a range of charges that bring up to life imprisonment, and a minimum of 30 years on firearms-related charges. He will be sentenced on Jan. 25.


Brooklyn Diocese to pay $27.5M to settle 4 sex abuse claims

In this May 15, 2018, file photo, acting New York state Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood speaks in Albany, N.Y. (AP)
Updated 8 min 3 sec ago
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Brooklyn Diocese to pay $27.5M to settle 4 sex abuse claims

  • These were boys who were abused in second grade through sixth grade, for years for some of them

NEW YORK: Four men who said they were sexually abused as boys by a teacher at a Catholic church have reached a $27.5 million settlement with the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The New York Times reports Tuesday that the agreement is one of the largest settlements ever awarded to sexual abuse victims within the Catholic Church. The men will each receive about $6.8 million.
The settlement comes just two weeks after the New York attorney general subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of an investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations. A grand jury report this summer found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by about 300 priests in Pennsylvania.
“These were boys who were abused in second grade through sixth grade, for years for some of them,” said Ben Rubinowitz, one of the lawyers for the victims. “The egregious nature of the conduct is the reason that the church paid what they did.”
Lawyers for the victims say 67-year-old Angelo Serrano, a lay teacher of religion at St. Lucy’s-St. Patrick’s Church in Brooklyn, repeatedly abused the victims between 2003 and 2009. Serrano is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2011 to inappropriate course of sexual conduct with a child.
“We hope this is another step forward in the healing process for these claimants,” the Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement. “The Diocese remains committed to ensuring that its parishes, schools and youth programs remain safe and secure for the young people who are entrusted to our care.”
The statement added that Serrano was a “volunteer worker” at a local parish and “was not clergy or an employee of the Diocese or parish.”
Since June 2017, 414 victims have applied for settlements through the Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program in Brooklyn. Other dioceses in the state run similar programs.
The latest settlement comes just two weeks after New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood subpoenaed all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of an investigation into the handling of sex abuse allegations.