Four Ohio men have been charged with plotting to travel to Yemen and provide thousands of dollars to former al Qaeda propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki.
Their goal, prosecutors say, was to support violent jihad against American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The four — Yahya Farooq Mohammad, age 37, Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 36, Asif Ahmed Salim, 35, and Sultane Room Salim, 40 — face terrorism charges.
The FBI says Farooq Mohammad, a citizen of India, was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004. His brother, Ibrahim, studied engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2001 through 2005, moved to Toledo, got married, and became a lawful permanent resident.
Authorities say Asif Salim was a US citizen who studied at Ohio State University between 2000 and 2005. His brother, Sultane, is also a US citizen.
Court documents say the men made a series of financial transactions in 2008 and 2009 and discussed raising money for a trip to the Middle East.
In July of 2009, the FBI says, Farooq Mohammad traveled to Yemen with two other people, not identified by authorities, to meet Alawki.
Due to the presence of Yemeni government soldiers in the village where Awlaki was living, they were unable to meet him. So Awlaki told them to travel to Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, and give the money — $22,000 — to one of Alawki’s associates, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The indictment said Mohammad e-mailed his brother, “Couldn’t meet with him, but delivered the goods to a relative.”
More via the DOJ: Four men with Ohio ties indicted for providing support to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 37; Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 36; Asif Ahmed Salim, 35; and Sultane Room Salim, 40, were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Farooq Mohammad and Ibrahim Mohammad both face an additional count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
“According to the allegations in the indictment, Farooq Mohammad, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Salim and Sultane Salim conspired to provide and did provide material support to Anwar Al-Awlaki in response to his calls to support violent jihad,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism and we will continue to pursue justice against those who seek to provide material support to terrorists.”
“In today’s world, Kansas is not far removed from the battlefields of the war on terror,” said U.S. Attorney Grissom. “We will do everything in our power to prevent funding and material support from finding its way from the heart of America to terrorists in foreign lands.”
“These individuals conspired and then acted on their radical beliefs by providing support to a known terrorist organization,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony. “The identification of their conspiracy and the subsequent investigation demonstrate how members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to mitigate terrorist’s threats in order to protect our citizens.”
Farooq Mohammad was an Indian citizen who was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004. In or around March 2008, he married a U.S. citizen. His brother, Ibrahim Mohammad, was also an Indian citizen who studied engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2001 through 2005. In or around 2006, he moved to Toledo, Ohio, and married a U.S. citizen. He became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in or around 2007.
Asif Salim was a U.S. citizen who studied at Ohio State University between 2000 and 2005. He became a resident of Overland Park, Kansas, in 2007. His brother, Sultane Salim, is also a U.S. citizen who resided in the Chicago-area from 2006 through 2012, until he moved to the Columbus area.
According to the indictment, from January 2005 through January 2012, the four defendants conspired to provide money, equipment and other assistance to Anwar Al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki, a key leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was designated a global terrorist in 2010. The indictment also alleges that the defendants’ support was to be used in furtherance of violent jihad against the U.S. and U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.
The defendants made various financial transactions in 2008 and 2009, and communicated about raising funds for a trip to the Middle East. Allegations in the indictment charge that Farooq Mohammad and Ibrahim Mohammad obtained money by opening credit cards and withdrawing money with no intention of repaying the amounts obtained from the financial institutions.
The indictment further alleges that on July 22, 2009, Farooq Mohammad travelled with two other people to Yemen to meet Awlaki. They were unable to meet with Awlaki, so instead travelled to Sana’a, Yemen, to meet with one of his associates. Farooq Mohammad and his two fellow travelers gave the associate approximately $22,000 to be given to Awlaki.
Read the indictment., there are three unnamed Muslim co-conspirators as well – at least one a Ohio State student.
The four Muslims – who lived in various cities in the U.S. including:
- Columbus, Ohio
- Toledo, Ohio
- Chicago, Illinois,
- Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, and
- Overland Park, Kansas