External Affairs

Indian Man in US Pleads Guilty to Funding Al-Qaida Terrorist

File Photo of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the terrorist who was aided. Credit: Flickr/Magarebia

File photo of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the terrorist who was aided. Credit: Flickr/Magarebia

Washington: An Indian man in the US has pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism by providing material support to a “key leader” of al-Qaida for “violent jihad” against US soldiers and a judge, authorities said on Monday (July 10).

Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, an Indian national who married an American citizen in 2008, faces over 27 years in prison and deportation if convicted, the Department of Justice said. He was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004.

He and three other defendants, his brother Ibrahim Mohammad, and two US citizens, Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Room Salim, both brothers, were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2015.

“The defendant conspired to provide and did provide material support to Anwar Al-Awlaki in response to his calls to support violent jihad,” said acting assistant attorney general Dana J. Boente.

The case against the remaining three defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, is pending.

As per the terms of his plea agreement, Mohammad is expected to be sentenced to over 27 years in federal prison, and upon its completion he will be deported under the terms of his plea agreement, the Department of Justice said.

“Mohammad conspired to attack US service members abroad as well as a judge in Toledo. He threatened the hallmarks of our democracy. He is a dangerous criminal who deserves a long prison sentence,” acting US attorney David Sierleja said.

“Conspiring to have a judge killed is not the way to avoid being prosecuted. Now Mohammad will be held accountable for additional serious federal charges,” said special agent in charge Anthony.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Mohammad admitted to conspiring with his co-defendants to travel to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars, equipment and other assistance to Anwar Al-Awlaki, in an effort to support violent jihad against US military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

According to court papers, on July 22 in 2009, Mohammad travelled with two associates to Yemen to meet Awlaki and deliver $22,000 that they had raised.  Although they were unable to meet Awlaki in person, Mohammad and his associates did ensure that Awlaki received the money through a courier.

Al-Awlaki was later designated as a global terrorist in 2010 and identified as a “key leader” of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, according to court documents.

In addition to pleading guilty to conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, Mohammad also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee (UCE), posing as a “hitman”, to kidnap and murder US district judge Jack Zouhary.

(PTI)