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.


New York City Mayor de Blasio ends 2020 presidential bid

Updated 20 September 2019

New York City Mayor de Blasio ends 2020 presidential bid

  • The mayor, who is barred from seeking a third four-year term in New York in 2021, struggled to build a national profile and stand out in a crowded field
  • De Blasio had failed to qualify for a Sept. 12 debate that featured the 10 leading candidates for the party’s nomination

NEW YORK: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said during an MSNBC television appearance that he was dropping out of the 2020 presidential campaign.
De Blasio, 58, launched his candidacy in May with the central campaign message “Working People First,” becoming the 24th Democrat to attempt to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election.
The mayor, who is barred from seeking a third four-year term in New York in 2021, struggled to build a national profile and stand out in a crowded field that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and a long list of experienced politicians.
News of the mayor ending his presidential bid was greeted with sarcasm by Trump.
“Oh no, really big political news, perhaps the biggest story in years! Part time Mayor of New York City, @BilldeBlasio, who was polling at a solid ZERO but had tremendous room for growth, has shocking dropped out of the Presidential race,” Trump tweeted early on Friday. “NYC is devastated, he’s coming home!“
De Blasio had registered little support in polls and was eclipsed by progressive US senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
De Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that a “central reason” for his decision was the party’s rules for qualifying for televised debates. He had failed to qualify for a Sept. 12 debate that featured the 10 leading candidates for the party’s nomination.
“The bar is so high so early that for a lot of us — clearly, some of my fellow chief executives, governors — couldn’t make that cut,” de Blasio said. “It’s clear to me it’s a high bar, and that it’s one I’m not going to be able to meet.”
De Blasio had emphasized during the campaign a list of progressive wins under his leadership, including universal pre-kindergarten, the end of the policing practice known as stop-and-frisk and paid sick leave, all in a city that has a bigger population, more than 8 million, than most US states.
Most New Yorkers had appeared unenthused about de Blasio’s presidential aspirations. A Quinnipiac University poll in April found more than three-quarters of New Yorkers did not feel he should make a White House bid.