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Former Mass. man sentenced for receiving terrorist training

Boston Globe 

HOUSTON --A U.S. citizen convicted of receiving training at a terrorist camp alongside al-Qaida members in his efforts to help overthrow the Somali government has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Daniel Joseph Maldonado, 28, a Muslim convert also known as Daniel Aljughaifi and Abu Mohammed, also was fined $1,000. Maldonado grew up in Pelham, N.H., and later lived in Methuen, Mass.

Maldonado admitted to traveling in December to a terrorist camp in Somalia, where he was trained to use firearms and explosives in an effort to help a group called the Islamic Courts Union topple the government and install an Islamic state. Members of al-Qaida were present at the camp.

Maldonado was captured by the Kenyan military while trying to flee Somalia in January and brought back to the United States in February.

In April he pleaded guilty to a charge of receiving training from a foreign terrorist organization. He was sentenced Friday.

Ten years was the maximum prison sentence Maldonado could have received. He faced a fine of up to $250,000.

Federal prosecutor Gary Cobe said after the hearing that the sentence was just.

"We're fighting a war against terrorism. We need to send a message that anyone who gets involved with terrorism will pay the price," he said.

Maldonado's defense attorney, Brent Newton, did not speak to reporters after the hearing.

But before the sentence was handed down, Newton said that while his client is not making excuses for what he did, he went to Somalia and the Middle East only to practice his Muslim faith in peace and not to join a terrorist group.

"He wants it to be known he never intended to hurt Americans," Newton said.

Maldonado declined to make a statement during the hearing.

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