Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, an Indian citizen jailed in the United States for concealing financing of terrorism, has been deported to India on board a repatriation flight, along with 166 others who were illegally staying there.
“They were brought on board an Oman Air flight on May 19,” said an agency official, requesting anonymity.
In April 2018, Mohammad and two others, Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Room Salim, had pleaded guilty on one count of concealment of financing of terrorism, for their roles in concealing the supply of funds to Anwar Al-Awlaki in 2009, according to a U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) statement on April 12 that year.
Al-Awlaki, a key leader of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, advocated violence against the U.S., supported and was involved in attempted terrorist attacks against civilians, as per U.S. court documents.
Days later, Mohammad’s wife, a U.S. citizen, had started a petition via change.org, stating that he pleaded guilty to lesser charges for a “crime” he did not abet, conspire or commit.
As mentioned in the U.S. DoJ website, Mohammad 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,” it said.
The U.S. agencies had alleged that after they started probing the financial transactions involved in the funds provided to Awlaki, the three tried to conceal the source by “lying to investigators and deleting emails from their accounts” related to the transactions. The case was being pursued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mohammad’s brother, Yahya Farooq, had pleaded guilty in 2017 for conspiracy to provide and conceal material support or resources to terrorists and one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence. He admitted to conspiring to travel to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars, equipment and other assistance to Al-Awlaki. Yahya was sentenced to over 27 years of imprisonment.
Mohammad, who had allegedly tried to conceal his brother’s involvement, had a Green Card. However, he could not secure U.S. citizenship. Therefore, after he served the sentence, he was deported to India, said the official.
According to Indian agencies, Mohammad was born in Sharjah where his mother worked at a hospital as a doctor. After completing his Class VI, he shifted to Hyderabad to live with his maternal aunt.
After graduating as an engineer from Osmania University in 2001, he went to University of Illinois for masters. He joined a doctorate course, but dropped out and took up a well paid job in Ohio.
Mohammad got married in 2006. In 2008, the allegation is, he came in touch with U.S. national Asif Ahmed Salim, who introduced him to one Jawid Tahir, a conduit of Awlaki. Salim handed over $17,000 to Mohammad. He gave the money to his brother, Yahya, who met Awlaki in Yemen in July 2009.
It is alleged that Yahya was also into credit card fraud. The agencies are trying to ascertain if both the brothers were in touch with Pakistan-based AQIS also before their arrest.
-Source: The Hindu, Writter: Devesh K Pandey