Houston jihadi's search for Islamist utopia

Houston Chronicle:

In handwritten statements released by the federal government Thursday, alleged terrorist Daniel Joseph Maldonado describes himself as a devout Muslim who moved to Somalia in search of an Islamic utopia for his family.

"It seemed that if they really made a true Islamic state that was practicing Islam as the law, it would be the perfect place for a family like mine," he wrote. "I would be able to live, pray, act, dress and be a Muslim without anyone yelling at me, calling me names, refusing me jobs or apartments, and so on."

The documents, written during interviews with U.S. agents in Kenya last month, also reveal a violent streak in Maldonado, now charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and training with al-Qaida. He is the first American accused of training with the terrorist organization in Somalia.

Although Maldonado claims he went to Somalia in search of peace, an informant said he was on a different mission, federal officials say.

Testimony from FBI agents this week, paired with a signed admission that his initial narrative was dishonest, reveals a zealous new convert making his way to fight jihad and join a terrorist organization that has killed thousands, including nearly 3,000 Americans in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, prosecutors said.


Maldonado's initial four-page statement, written on legal-length paper, was penned Jan. 27. Three days later, he amended that narrative, admitting to omissions and falsehoods.

One addition says: "I left out the fact that I wanted to fight jihad. DJM" Another says he received a gun and ammunition.

FBI agent Loretta Eglen-Anderson testified Wednesday that an informant said Maldonado studied bomb-making in Somalia and expressed interest in going to the front lines of war with al-Qaida members who were "specifically going to fight with Somali units to take over the country."

He also admits miscalculations.

Maldonado writes that he received a cool reception in Somalia, some of which he blames on his light skin. Maldonado, who is of Puerto Rican descent, felt uneasy because of his color. He said his wife was not under suspicion because she was black.

"I got to Somalia and I was not so welcomed as I thought I would be. The (authorities accused) me of being FBI and also said that I was possibly (there) for jihad," he writes. "I must be honest, I was worried being a white guy around a bunch of Somalis with weapons who did not all seem to trust me much."

Who knew blacks could be prejudiced against whites? It will be interesting to see who the informant was who gave information that made Maldonado become more forthcoming in his narrative. It appears that charges have been assembles based on his narrative. His statement does give insight into the jihadi search for utopia that is a driving force for some to make the worse decision of their life.


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