Homeland Security

Al-Qaeda Funder Who Tried to Have Judge Murdered Pleads Guilty

Yahya Farooq Mohammed

A former Ohio State student has pleaded guilty to support for al-Qaeda and trying to hire a hitman to kidnap and kill the judge who was overseeing his terror case.

Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 39, is an Indian citizen who came to the U.S. to study engineering in 2002. In 2008, he married an American citizen. He was indicted with his brothers, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Room Salim, all of whom have pleaded not guilty, in September 2015.

A year after he was wed, Mohammed traveled to Yemen to give $22,000 that he and associates had raised to Anwar Al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born al-Qaeda recruiter killed in a 2011 drone strike.

While being held in the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio, on the pending terror charges, Mohammed, according to the indictment, told another inmate that he wanted to kill the judge in his case, U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. The inmate introduced Mohammed to a hitman who was actually working undercover for the FBI.

The undercover operative told Mohammed it would cost $15,000 to kidnap and murder the judge, with a $1,000 down payment. The terror suspect said he could sent the money through a courier or the “hitman” could meet his wife in Chicago to collect. “The sooner would be good, you know,” Mohammed told the FBI operative of the timing.

Mohammed called his wife, who arranged to meet the would-be hitman at a post office in Bolingbrook, Ill., on May 3, 2016, and gave him $1,000 cash in a white envelope. Mohammed told the undercover agent May 11, 2016, that the balance of payment would be coming from Dubai, routed through Texas.

He pleaded guilty today 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.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mohammed is expected to serve 27.5 years in prison then be deported at the conclusion of his term.

“This defendant conspired to attack our service members abroad as well as a judge in Toledo,” Acting U.S. Attorney  David A. Sierleja said in a statement. “He threatened the hallmarks of our democracy. He is a dangerous criminal who deserves a long prison sentence.”