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Indian gets 27.5 years in US jail after pleading guilty to terror charges

Yahya Farooq Mohammad and three other accused were indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2015. The case against the three other men is pending.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2017 09:00 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian jailed in US,Terrorism in US,Yahya Farooq Mohammad
Indian national Yahya Farooq Mohammad provided thousands of dollars to slain al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. (Photo: Lucas County Sheriff’s Office)

Indian national Yahya Farooq Mohammad was on Monday sentenced to 27 and a half years in prison in the US after pleading guilty to providing thousands of dollars to slain al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and soliciting the murder of the judge hearing his case.

Mohammad, 39, was an engineering student at Ohio State University during 2002-04 and married a US citizen in 2008.

He and three other accused – 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 three other men, who pleaded not guilty, is pending.

Mohammad will be deported from the US on the completion of his sentence, under the terms of his plea agreement.

“As part of his conspiracy, the defendant provided thousands of dollars to Anwar Al-Awlaki in response to his calls to support violent jihad. Once detained, the defendant also solicited the murder of the federal judge presiding over his case,” said acting assistant attorney general Dana J Boente.

A statement issued by the US department of justice said 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”.

Al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, was designated as a global terrorist in 2010 and identified as a key leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

On July 22, 2009, Mohammad travelled with two associates to Yemen to meet al-Awlaki and deliver $22,000 they had raised, the statement said. Although they were unable to meet the al-Qaeda leader in person, Mohammad and his associates ensured that he received the money through a courier.

Mohammad also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI operative, posing as a “hitman”, to kidnap and murder district judge Jack Zouhary. In April 2016 – while Mohammad’s case was pending and assigned to Zouhary – he told another inmate in the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio that he wanted Zouhary kidnapped and murdered and was willing to pay $15,000 to have this done.

The inmate provided Mohammad with the contact information for the undercover operative and stated that he would need a $1,000 down payment. This inmate also provided Mohammad with an agreed upon code to use when discussing the planned murder over the jail telephone.

Mohammad called the undercover operative from the Lucas County Corrections Center and told him about wanting to have the judge killed. Mohammad also agreed to provide the $1,000 down payment.

According to the justice department statement, when Mohammed was asked when he wanted the murder committed, he replied, “The sooner would be good, you know.”

Mohammad then arranged for a family member to provide the $1,000 in cash to the FBI operative. On May 5, 2016, the family member met with the operative and provided him the money. Mohammad later informed the inmate the rest of the amount for the murder “was coming”, according to court documents.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 23:43 IST