WASHINGTON – A former Army soldier accused of trying to provide support to a terrorist organization in Somalia after he left the military has asked a court to dismiss the case against him, saying he never had any contact with the group.
A lawyer for Craig Baxam of Laurel, Md., wrote in a motion filed Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., that convicting her client would require him to have coordinated with the terrorist group al-Shabab. Baxam's lawyer, Linda Moreno, wrote that Baxam never contacted or attempted to contact al-Shabab and never pledged loyalty to any person or organization affiliated with the group.
"An attempt to provide material support to al-Shabab would require, at minimum, some allegation of communication or coordination with the group. None is alleged here," she wrote.
The government now has the chance to respond to the motions.
Baxam served as an intelligence analyst in the Army from 2007 to 2011 and converted to Islam shortly before leaving the Army. He is accused of leaving the United States for Somalia in late 2011 with the intention of joining al-Shabab. He was stopped in Kenya before reaching Somalia and questioned by the FBI.
He was charged in early 2012 with attempting to provide material support and resources to al-Shabab and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Baxam's attorney, however, writes that he traveled to Somalia because he wanted to go live in a place governed by Islamic law. She says in court documents that Baxam never indicated his motive was to join al-Shabaab and that his motivation was religious, not military.
"The government's prosecution recalls the disturbing film 'Minority Report' in which psychics are used to predict future criminals and arrest them before they have even offended, if they ever do," the motion says.
Baxam's attorney also asked in a separate motion that portions of his interviews with the FBI be excluded from evidence, because some of his answers are irrelevant, confusing and prejudicial and responses to hypothetical questions.
Some of the statements Baxam wants excluded are that his loyalties are to Islam and not the United States and that he would be happy to die defending Islam and was "looking for dying with a gun" in his hand.
Baxam's attorney writes that in the interviews Baxam did not offer any passionate support of violence, expressed reservations about suicide bombing and said he would not kill indiscriminately.
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