A former American soldier was sentenced to seven years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to destroying computer records that could have been used against him in a terrorism investigation. Craig Benedict Baxam of Laurel, Md., converted to Islam soon after leaving the U.S. Army in July 2011. He was arrested in Kenya in December 2011 by Kenyan police while he was on his way to Somalia to wage jihad alongside the al-Qaida-tied Somali jihadist organization, al-Shabaab.
Baxam destroyed his personal home computer before leaving for Somalia because "he did not want any record left behind and that he wanted to maintain a low profile." According to the plea agreement, Baxam told federal agents "that due to his prior service in the U.S. Army, and specifically his training and experience in military intelligence, he knew of the U.S. government's capabilities in tracing Internet protocol addresses and other investigative techniques available to authorities. Consequently, before leaving the U.S., he destroyed his personal home computer and threw the remains in a dumpster."
Court records show Baxam told agents that "living an Islamic life in the United States is oppressive." In statements to agents he justified defensive jihad and said he would fight the U.S. to defend Islamic lands.