3 former OSU students among 4 men charged with supporting Al Qaeda

An indictment has been returned in federal court against four men, three 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 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, but did not graduate. 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 Ohio State University, Asif Salim earned a B.S. in geography and Sultane Salim earned a B.S. in chemical engineering and attended from summer ’92 to spring ’98.

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.

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.

If convicted, the defendants’ sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, and the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

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