Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 38, Asif Ahmed Salim, 38, and Sultane Room Salim, 43, pleaded guilty this week to one count of concealment of financing of terrorism for their roles in concealing the provision of thousands of dollars to Anwar al-Awlaki in an effort to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.
A fourth defendant, Yahya Farooq Mohammad, pleaded guilty last year to 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. Farooq Mohammed admitted to conspiring to travel to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars, equipment and other assistance to al-Awlaki. He also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee posing as a hitman to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. He was sentenced to 27.5 years in prison last year.
Ibrahim Mohammad, an Indian citizen, studied engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2001 through 2005. In 2006, he moved to Toledo, Ohio, and married a U.S. citizen. He became a lawful permanent resident of the United States in 2007.
Asif Salim, a U.S. citizen, 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 court documents.
The three defendants who pleaded guilty this week acted to conceal supplying funds to al-Awlaki in 2009. Al-Awlaki, a key leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, advocated violence against the United States and supported and was involved in attempted terrorist attacks against civilians, according to court documents.
Farooq Mohammad traveled with two other people to Yemen in 2009 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, according to court documents. The money Farooq Mohammad provided included approximately $17,000 that had been provided by Asif and Sultane Salim in the United States. Ibrahim Mohammad facilitated the transfer of the money to Farooq Mohammad overseas for him to take to Awlaki in Yemen.
After law enforcement began investigating the financial transactions involved in the funds provided to Awlaki, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Salim and Sultane Salim attempted to conceal the source of the funds provided to Awlaki by lying to investigators and deleting emails from their accounts that were related to the transactions.