Ari Elias Baum is charged with defrauding the Social Security system, but prosecutors think he also may be a terrorist in training.
As part of an effort to keep the Buffalo man in jail, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana disclosed the government’s suspicions in court Thursday and pointed to Baum’s visits to Syria, Yemen and Malaysia.
“People close to him believe he was in training to become a terrorist," Campana told U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
Baum’s lawyers responded by noting that Baum, 29, is bipolar, suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder and has stopped taking his medication. They also pointed to a four-year investigation of Baum that turned up nothing but the fraud allegations.
“He hasn’t made any threats and, if he had, I think the government would have charged him," said Brian P. Comerford, an assistant federal public defender.
McCarthy, who suggested the government was trying to “backdoor” its allegations, released Baum into the custody of his parents.