Today's guilty pleas were announced by Matthew Olsen, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security; William J. Edwards, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Zubair Ahmed and his cousin Khaleel Ahmed (HIS PHOTO ABOVE) each pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge James G. Carr in Toledo, Ohio, to a one-count, superseding information charging them with conspiracy to provide material support and resources, including the defendants themselves as personnel, to terrorists in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. Section 2339A.
At sentencing, each defendant faces a statutory maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, followed by three years of supervised release. According to the superseding information and other information entered into the court record today: The criminal conspiracy involving Zubair and Khaleel Ahmed began no later than April 1, 2004, and continued until their arrests on Feb. 21, 2007.
As part of the conspiracy, the defendants made preparations to travel overseas in order to engage in acts that would result in the murder or maiming of U.S. military forces in either Iraq or Afghanistan. On or about May 21, 2004, the defendants traveled to Cairo, Egypt, with the intent of engaging in acts that would result in the murder or maiming of U.S. military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.
After their return from Egypt, on or about July 4, 2004, Zubair and Khaleel Ahmed discussed, sought and received instruction on firearms from another individual in Cleveland. The defendants also sought and discussed training in counter-surveillance techniques and sniper rifles with this individual. Specifically, defendant Zubair Ahmed discussed his desire to learn how to use and move with a .50-caliber machine gun.
The final 2 members of the Toledo-Chicago terror crew pled guility TODAY, the radical cousins Zubair A. Ahmed, age 29, who had resided at 3504 Green Bay Road, Apartment 309C, North Chicago, Illinois, and his cousin, Khaleel Ahmed, age 28, who had resided at 4501 N. Keystone Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Both are U.S. citizens.
See my prior post on the 3 Muslim Toledo used car dealers convicted in a linked terrorism case to Khaleel Ahmed, Friday, June 13, 2008, 3 in Ohio guilty of plot against US troops in Iraq, Toledo Muslim used car dealer Mazloum and his pals face life in prison.
On or about February 21, 2006, ZUBAIR and KHALEEL AHMED communicated by telephone. ZUBAIR advised KHALEEL, in part and in substance, that he had heard a radio report of the arrest of Separately Indicted Co-Conspirator A (in Toronto), and others (the 3 Muslim used car dealers in Toledo). ZUBAIR told KHALEEL, in part and in substance, that Separately Indicted Co-Conspirator A (in Toronto) could have gotten them in big trouble.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service first caught wind of a possible cell after a tip from British authorities, who had been monitoring the Internet movements of Younis Tsouli - a.k.a. "Irhabi 007" - a London man accused of operating a series of al-Qaeda-linked websites. Officials believe Tsouli was using one of his chat rooms to communicate with radical recruits in Toronto, Chicago and Atlanta.
The London court was told that Tsouli and his codefendants Waseem Mughal, 24, and Tariq al-Daour, 21, had close links to al-Qaeda in Iraq and posted videos, see one here, of its attacks on coalition forces and the beheading of Western hostages. “A lot of the funding that the brothers are getting is coming because of the videos. Imagine how many have gone after seeing the videos. Imagine how many have become shahid [martyrs].”
Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Sadequee in Atlanta GA are members of al-Muhajiroun and had been linked to the two radical cousins in Chicago Zubair A. Ahmed, age 29, who had resided at 3504 Green Bay Road, Apartment 309C, North Chicago, Illinois, and his cousin, Khaleel Ahmed, age 28, resides at 4501 N. Keystone Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Police believe the suspects in the alleged bomb plot in Toronto (and Atlanta) may have been part of a growing trend of cyber-jihadism that includes the Chicago Ahmed cousins. Canadian authorities estimate there are as many as 4,500 jihadist websites, and they've become the main networking tool for radicals. It is uncensored terrain and authorities say it is growing fast. There are calls to arms, even step-by-step instructions, from how to make an explosive, see video here, to where a suicide bomber should stand in a crowded bus for maximum impact.
As part of the conspiracy, the defendants also communicated with each other using code words and in a foreign language to disguise their preparations and plans to engage in acts abroad that would result in the murder or maiming of U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Furthermore, Zubair and Khaleel Ahmed researched the purchase of firearms, methods of obtaining firearms instruction (including at least one visit to a firing range) and methods of obtaining instruction in gunsmithing. In addition, the defendants collected and distributed videos of attacks on U.S. military forces overseas, manuals on military tactics and military manuals on weaponry.
"Today's guilty pleas should send a strong message to individuals who would use this country as a platform to plot attacks against U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Matthew Olsen, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "This case also underscores the need for continued vigilance in identifying and dismantling extremist plots that develop within our nation."
C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland Division, FBI, said: "This case is an example of our continued efforts to detect terrorist planning and to prevent acts of terrorism before they occur. Through close cooperation with our law enforcement partners in Illinois and Ohio, this case resulted in the successful prosecution of these individuals."
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Chicago, Illinois and Toledo, Ohio, with the assistance of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Chicago Police Department; the Illinois State Police; the Ohio Highway Patrol; the Toledo Police Department; and the Lucas and Wood County Sheriff's Departments.
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