Yahya Farooq, an Indian origin man in Ohio, who had previously been charged with providing support to Al-Qaeda was handed a three-count indictment in Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday, last week for soliciting the murder of the federal judge presiding over his case.
Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 37, was charged with attempted first-degree murder of a federal officer, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and use of interstate commerce facilities in commission of murder for hire, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
He was accused of soliciting someone to kidnap and murder U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary after he told an inmate at a county jail in April that he was willing to pay $15,000 to carry out the act, the Toledo Blade reports.
Farooq Mohammad was in jail for a case in which he was indicted last year, involving charges for conspiring with three men to travel to Yemen in 2009 to give thousands of dollars in support of jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. That case still remains pending in the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio.
“According to the charges in the indictment, this defendant not only attempted to have a federal judge murdered, but he did so to obstruct justice in a terrorism case against him,” U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a statement Wednesday. “This prosecution seeks to hold the defendant accountable for attempting to victimize the judge and for trying to undermine our criminal justice system.”
The indictment said the inmate reported that information to the FBI and later introduced Mohammad to an “undercover employee” of the FBI. Mohammad was willing to pay $15,000 to have Zouhary killed. He then arranged for his wife to make a $1,000 down payment, which she did on May 5, it said. “When asked when he wanted the murder committed, Mohammad stated, ‘The sooner would be good, you know,’” the indictment said. The delivery of money to carry out the plan was handed to an FBI employee who was undercover.
Mohammad, who has been in jail since conspiring with three others including his brother Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad to travel to Yemen to provide $29,000 to known al Qaida leader Anwar Al-Awlaki to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel throughout the world, was indicted July 6 on charges including first degree murder of a federal officer, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.
Mohammad’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, said they will “vigorously contest these highly orchestrated and preposterous charges.” Two of the new charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison, while the third charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Mohammad was extradited to the U.S. from the United Arab Emirates in 2015 following the indictment being unsealed Nov. 5 of the conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. Mohammad has pleaded not guilty in the case regarding Al-Awlaki.