A grand jury in the US state of Ohio returned a three-count indictment against an Emirati man suspected of trying to order the killing of a federal judge.
Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 37, was charged with attempted first degree murder of the judge presiding over the case that landed him in jail, as well as with committing a crime of violence and using the mail and interstate commerce facilities – a cellphone – to commit murder for hire, a Justice Department statement said.
The charges stem from Mohammad allegedly telling another inmate that he wanted to have US District Judge Jack Zouhary kidnapped and murdered, and that he was willing to pay $15,000 for the crime, according to the indictment.
The inmate then alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and presented Mohammad to an undercover FBI employee.
Mohammad is also said to have told the undercover agent that he could use a mail courier to send a downpayment, or the undercover employee could meet Mohammad’s wife in Chicago to obtain the money.
Asked about when he wanted the murder to take place, Mohammad said: “The sooner would be good, you know,” according to the indictment.
On May 5, Mohammad’s wife, identified simply as “N.T.” in the indictment, met the undercover agent at a post office in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and provided $1,000 in cash inside a white envelope, according to the indictment.
On May 11, Mohammad told the inmate that the rest of the money for the murder was coming from Dubai.
The undercover agent and N.T. met on May 16, and he undercover agent showed her a photograph he claimed was of Zouhary’s dead body.
The undercover agent then asked for the rest of the money owed to him and N.T. said she would contact Mohammad and then get back in touch with the undercover agent, the indictment said.
Zouhary was presiding over a case in which Mohammad was indicted last year for conspiring with three other men to travel to Yemen to provide thousands of dollars to US-born Al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar Al-Awlaki to support violent extremist acts against US military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“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,” US Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement.
“This prosecution seeks to hold the defendant accountable for attempting to victimize the judge and for trying to undermine our criminal justice system.”
Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony added: “Conspiring to have a judge killed is not the way to avoid being prosecuted — now Mohammad will be held accountable for additional serious federal charges.”
If convicted on all of the new counts, Mohammad could face up to 50 years in prison.