An Indian national was sentenced in Ohio, for conspiring to help terrorists, including the late leader of al Qaeda Anwar al Awlaki, and for trying to get a federal judge assassinated. He will be deported from the U.S. after serving his sentence, under the terms of his plea agreement.
Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, was sentenced Nov. 6, to 27 ½ years in prison for 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, according to a press release from Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente.The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan supervised the prosecution of the solicitation to commit a crime of violence charge.
Mohammad is an Indian citizen who was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004. He married a U.S. citizen in 2008. He and three other defendants – his brother, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim, and Sultane Room Salim – were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2015. The case against the remaining three defendants is pending. They have pleaded not guilty.
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, an American of Yemeni ancestry considered a top Al Qaeda recruiter by Washington, to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. Al-Awlaki was later designated as a global terrorist in 2010 and identified as a “key leader” of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, according to court documents. Awlaki is reported to have been killed in 2011 in a drone attack.
On July 22, 2009, Mohammad traveled with two associates to Yemen to meet Awlaki and deliver the $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, according to U.S. authorities.
In addition to pleading guilty to conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists, Mohammad also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee posing as a “hitman,” to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. In or about April 2016 – while the terrorism case was pending and assigned to Judge Zouhary – Mohammad told another inmate in the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio that he wanted Zouhary kidnapped and murdered and that he was willing to pay $15,000 to have this carried out. The inmate provided Mohammad with the contact information for the undercover agent, and stated that the this contact would need a $1,000 down payment before the murder could occur. The inmate also provided Mohammad with an agreed upon code to use when discussing the planned murder over the jail telephone.
On or about April 26, 2016, Mohammad called the undercover FBI agent from the Lucas County Corrections Center. Using the agreed-upon code, Mohammad told the FBI agent he wanted to have Judge Zouhary killed. Mohammad agreed to provide the $1,000 down payment. When asked when he wanted the murder committed, Mohammad stated, “The sooner would be good, you know.” Over the ensuing days, Mohammad arranged to have a family member provide the $1,000 in cash to the undercover agent. On May 5, 2016, that family member met with the the FBI agent, and provided the person with $1,000 in cash. Mohammad later informed the inmate that the rest of the money for the murder was coming, according to court documents.