4 men, 2 former OSU students, charged with supporting Al Qaeda leader

An indictment has been returned in federal court against four men, two who were former students at Ohio State University, who are suspected of conspiring to provide money to support jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

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.

“The charges in this case outline a plan to send thousands of dollars to a known terrorist, a plan which came to fruition shortly before one of the most notorious attempted attacks in recent memory – an attack claimed by that same terrorist,” said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.  “This indictment is a testament to the perseverance of those who stand watch over our nation and is a clear message to those who support terrorism – we will not forget and you will face justice.”

Farooq Mohammad was an Indian citizen who was an engineering student at Ohio State University between 2002 and 2004, the indictment stated.  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 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.

An indictment is only a charge is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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