Credit Card Fraud Scheme Allegedly Used to Support Terrorism

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Two pairs of brothers allegedly conspired to raise money through a credit card fraud scheme and deliver the funds to an al Qaida leader over about seven years beginning in 2005, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Ohio. The U.S. Justice Department charged four men, including two former Ohio State University students, with conspiring to support terrorist efforts to carry out violence against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Involved in the plot were brothers Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 37, and Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 36; along with brothers Asif Ahmed Salim, 35, and Sultane Room Salim, 40.

The 72-page indictment outlines an alleged conspiracy that began in 2005 and continued through January, 2012, in which the four men schemed to provide money, equipment, and other assistance to Al-Awlaki, a key leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was killed in Yemen in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. U.S. officials considered al-Awlaki to be an inspirational leader of al-Qaida, and linked him to the planning and execution of several attacks targeting American and Western interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner. Their support was allegedly intended to further the cause of violent jihad against the United States and U.S. military.

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The charges against the four men “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. “Money really is the lifeblood of these terrorist organizations, and the people who give cash knowing that it’s going to be used to support terrorism have a real responsibility for what’s going to happen with that money.”

Tens of thousands of dollars were raised through the alleged credit card fraud scheme. The largest dollar amount listed in the indictment was $22,000, which Yahya Farooq Mohammad and two unindicted co-conspirators delivered to an associate of Al-Awlaki in Yemen in July, 2009.

All four men were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The Mohammad brothers were also was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

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