On the eve of his federal court trial on charges of supporting terrorism, a former Toledo man pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealment of financing of terrorism.
Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 38, an engineer who was most recently living with his wife and children in Texas, is to receive an agreed-upon prison sentence of 60 months, although he would receive credit for the 30 months he already has spent in the Lucas County jail awaiting trial.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Helmick told him that as a result of his plea and conviction, he would be deported to India, where he has citizenship.
“You ultimately will be removed from this country and told you are not welcome to come back,” the judge said.
As part of a plea agreement, the four original charges brought by a federal grand jury in 2015 are to be dismissed at the time of sentencing, which was not scheduled.
Two co-defendants, Sultane Roome Salim, 43, and his brother, Asif Ahmed Salim, 37, are scheduled for a change of plea hearing before Judge Helmick Thursday. Mohammad and the Salims had been set for trial April 23 with jury selection beginning Monday.
A fourth co-defendant, Mohammad’s brother, Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to provide and conceal material support or resources to terrorists and to solicitation to commit a crime of violence for a separate case in which he tried to hire a hitman to kill Judge Jack Zouhary. At the time, Judge Zouhary was presiding over the terrorism case.
Yahya Farooq Mohammad was sentenced to a total of 27½ years in prison and ordered deported to India once he completes his prison term.
In court Wednesday, Michael Freeman, an assistant U.S. attorney, outlined the factual basis for the charge to which Ibrahim Mohammad pleaded guilty.
Mr. Freeman said Mohammad’s brother — whom he referred to as “Farooq” — and others raised money in 2009 in the United Arab Emirates to deliver to Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was later designated a terrorist and killed by a U.S. drone in 2011.
Mr. Freeman said Farooq raised some funds through credit card fraud, sought funds from others he knew, and enlisted his brother in the United States to help.
“Among the methods used to transfer funds to Farooq was for Ibrahim to pay expenses, including tuition and the purchase of a car, for a relative attending the University of Toledo,” Mr. Freeman said. “The relative’s father then repaid the amounts of those expenses to Farooq in the UAE. The effect of this method of transferring the funds to Farooq was to conceal the source of the funds received by Farooq.”
Two associates of Farooq delivered $7,000 to an associate of al-Awlaki in Yemen in late January, 2009, Mr. Freeman said. Then, in July, 2009, Farooq delivered $22,000 to an associate of al-Awlaki — funds that included $17,000 allegedly provided by the Salim brothers.
Mr. Freeman said Asif Salim wrote three checks to Ibrahim totaling $15,000 while Sultane Salim wrote one check to Ibrahim for $2,000. Ibrahim then deposited the checks in Farooq’s bank account in the Toledo area and used the same plan of paying expenses for a relative at UT to get the money to Farooq in the United Arab Emirates.
“Ibrahim knew that Farooq had willfully provided the funds to Awlaki, including the funds that Ibrahim assisted in transferring to Farooq, with the knowledge that, at least in part, the funds would be used to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian,” Mr. Freeman said.
Ibrahim knew, Mr. Freeman said, that al-Awlaki had expressed support for the killing of 13 service members at Fort Hood, Texas, by Nidal Hasan on Nov. 5, 2009, and that al-Awlaki had been involved in the attempt to destroy an airliner over Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009.
When interviewed by the FBI in Chicago in 2011, Ibrahim lied about the financial transactions, Mr. Freeman said, and later deleted emails that contained words such as Awlaki, jihad, Taliban, and Yemen from his email account.
Judge Helmick asked Mohammad, through his attorney, Dave Klucas, whether he had any challenges to the summary of the case. “No, there is not,” Mr. Klucas said.
Will the wife and
future jihadis kids be deported too? Will the relative who received financing that was later repaid to fund terrorism also be deported and not welcome to return?