Crime

Indian-origin Man Sentenced to 27 Years In Prison For Funding Al-Qaeda

Yahya Farooq Mohammad also plotted to have the judge hearing his case killed.

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A 39-year-old man of Indian origin was on Nov. 6 sentenced to 27 years in prison for funding Al-Qaeda and plotting to kill the federal judge hearing his case in the United States. Yahya Farooq Mohammad and his brother Ibrahim Mohammad were among the four men indicted for sending $22,000 to slain America-born cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, the leader of Yemen-based Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in September 2015.

Yahya Farooq Mohammad had come to the United States to study engineering at Ohio State University in 2002. He married a U.S. citizen in 2008. Along with two others, he traveled to Yemen on July 22, 2009 and had the money delivered to Awlaki, an influential recruiter among the al-Qaeda’s ranks, via a third party.

The U.S. Department of justice said in a statement 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.”

Anwar Al-Awlaki, marked as a global terrorist in 2010, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.

According to the Justice Department, in April 2016 when their cases were pending before the court, Mohammad tried to get the judge for their trial — District Judge Jack Zouhary — killed. He offered an inmate in the Lucas County, Ohio jail, where he was housed about $15,000 to abduct and kill the judge. The inmate put Mohammad in touch with an assassin and Mohammad had his wife — a U.S. citizen living in Illionois — pay $1,000 as down payment to the assassin, who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

The justice department statement quoted Mohammad as saying, “The sooner would be good, you know” when asked when he wanted the murder committed. His wife met the FBI operative on May 5, 2016 and handed him the money.

“He threatened the safety of our citizens, a judge and the independent judiciary. Now he is being held accountable,” U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said.

“I never anticipated I would face the ordeal of a defendant putting a price on my head and taking concrete steps to hire for murder — my murder — where the FBI would ask me to help fake my own death in a case where I had yet to make any decisions that might impact the defendant’s guilt or innocence, and where getting rid of me could only achieve the appointment of a new judge on the case,” Judge Zouhary ‘s statement was read in court by Matthew Shepherd, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, the Toledo Blade newspaper reported.

A few weeks after the judge’s death was faked, the FBI agent met Mohammad’s wife and showed her a picture of “dead” Judge Zouhary and asked for the rest of the money.

Mohammad pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support or resources to terrorists and one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence in U.S. federal court in Toledo, Ohio. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he will be deported after serving his sentence of 27.5 years in federal prison. The other three — Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Room Salim — pleaded not guilty to charges.

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