A West Side man is accused of supporting Middle Eastern terrorists through money laundering and by providing resources in what prosecutors say is the first indictment of its kind in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
Abdirahman S. Mohamud, 23, was arrested on Saturday at his home at 3762 Dunlane Court, and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.
In a motion filed today, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien is seeking a $2.5 million bond, writing that Mohamud “is a public safety risk as well as has every reason to flee the country.”
The felony indictment, filed yesterday, follows a one-and-a-half-year investigation by the FBI, which established that Mohamud “provided material support and resources or electronic devices to persons engaged in terrorism in the Middle East and has traveled to that area of the world,” according to the motion.
Mohamud is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation “that will result in… additional terrorism charges under federal law where the penalties are more severe than in state court,” O’Brien wrote.
The indictment charges Mohamud with one count of soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism and one count of money laundering in support of terrorism.
Mohamud is a U.S. citizen, O’Brien said.
Although terrorism cases typically are filed in federal court, the filing in Common Pleas Court is an example of the prosecutor’s office working together with federal authorities when “quick action is necessary,” he said.
O’Brien declined to provide details about Mohamud’s activities or whether he is suspected of planning terrorist attacks in central Ohio. He referred all additional questions about the case to the U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus and the FBI.
“We’re aware of the situation, but can’t provide any additional information,” said Todd Lindgren, an FBI spokesman. The U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus did not immediately return a call.
No one answered the door this afternoon at the Dunlane Court address, where neighbors said Mohamud lived with his sister, brother, and mother on a cul-de-sac of duplexes off Demorest Road.
One young man who lives in the other half of the duplex said law-enforcement agents, including some wearing jackets that read FBI, had visited the home several times in recent days.
“He’s a cool dude,” said the man, who did not want to give his name. “He’s not a dude I would expect to be involved in terrorism.”
He said he never heard anything unusual through the shared walls of the duplex, and Mohamud did not discuss topics that would suggest an interest in terrorism.
Another neighbor agreed, saying he saw nothing out of the ordinary involving the family. He said they’d lived there perhaps a year without drawing any attention to themselves until the FBI showed up last week.
Franklin County Municipal Court records show that Mohamud lived at a Lake Park Drive address on the South Side in 2012 and 2013 when he received traffic citations on three occasions for driving with a suspended license or no license.
He also was charged with misdemeanor theft after an employee of a Far West Side restaurant told deputies that he skipped out on a $15.33 bill in November. He pleaded no contest in Municipal Court and was scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday, but failed to appear.
A warrant was issued for his arrest and he was picked up on Friday, court records show. He was released on bail the same day – one day before his arrest in the terrorism case.
Columbus lawyer Kenneth W. Parrill Jr., said today that he was appointed to defend Mohamud in the theft case in December and had the court date moved to February after Mohamud told him he needed to travel to Texas for a few weeks.
He said Mohamud didn’t explain the reason for his trip, exactly how long he’d be gone and couldn’t provide him with a phone number to keep in touch.
“He never gave me a clear answer to anything,” Parrill said. “He certainly wasn’t specific about anything with me.”
Parrill said he wasn’t aware of the terrorism allegations or that his client had been arrested.
The FBI has joint terrorism task forces across the country, including one in Columbus, that monitor and investigate possible terrorists. Each task force is made up of full-time law enforcement from a variety of local agencies.
The Cincinnati division of the FBI, which includes Columbus, has prosecuted three men for their links to al-Qaida in recent years.
Christopher Paul, a Worthington native, was sentenced in 2009 to 20 years in prison for conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction on U.S. and European targets. He became a member of al-Qaida and fought in Bosnia and Afghanistan. In Ohio he tried to recruit others to form a “jihadist group,” officials said.
Paul grew up as Paul Kenyatta Laws and graduated from Thomas Worthington High School. He reportedly met with another convicted terrorist, Nuradin Abdi, in 2002 in Upper Arlington to discuss blowing up a local shopping mall.
Abdi was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for conspiring to support terrorists and plotting to blow up a mall. He had trained in Ethiopia and was a native of Somalia.
In January, a Cincinnati man, Christopher Lee Cornell, was charged with plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government employees. His case is being tried in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.
Law enforcement began tracking him when he began talking about violent jihad on social-media sites.
Both Paul and Abdi’s cases went through U.S. District Court in Columbus.
A third case, that of Columbus truck driver Iyman Faris, was prosecuted in Alexandria, Va. He admitted to scouting the Brooklyn Bridge in 2002 as a possible terrorist attack target. Prosecutors said he met with Osama bin Laden in 2000 in Afghanistan and provided al-Qaida with plane tickets and cell phones.
Investigators said Paul and Abdi befriended Faris, a Pakistani native, in central Ohio.