New Delhi: Al Qaeda terrorist Mohammad Ibrahim Zubair, who is from Telangana, has been deported to India from the United States as he completed his 60-month jail term on a terror charge there. He was deported on 19 May.
Zubair (40), an engineer who lived in Toledo, Ohio, worked as a financier for Anwar-Al-Awlaki, a key al Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula.
He had been in US custody since 2015.
According to a document of a US district court, Zubair Mohammad was arrested for “concealment of financing of terrorism”.
“He and two others pleaded guilty for their roles in concealing the provision of thousands of dollars to Anwar Al-Awlaki in an effort to support violent jihad against U.S. military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world,” the document said.
Awlaki, according to the US court document, advocated violence against the United States and was involved in attempted terrorist attacks against civilians.
Awlaki was killed in a drone strike by the US authorities in Yemen in September 2011.
Zubair was brought to India on a special flight to Amritsar, along with 167 other Indians stranded abroad, and was then taken to Hyderabad where he is now quarantined.
“While Zubair was born in Sharjah, he lived in the US and had a permanent residency there. His family roots, however, are in Hyderabad, Telangana, where he also owns properties,” an officer from the security establishment said.
“Zubair was accused of supplying funds to Awlaki in 2009, using multiple bank accounts located in Dubai, for terror activities,” he added.
Zubair’s brother took money to Awlaki
According to sources, Zubair facilitated the transfer of money to Farooq Mohammad, his brother, for him to take to Awlaki in Yemen.
According to the US court document, Farooq Mohammad travelled with two other people to Yemen in 2009 to meet Awlaki.
They were, however, unable to meet him and so travelled to Sana’a in Yemen to meet one of Awlaki’s associates.
According to the US court document, Farooq Mohammad and his two fellow travellers gave the associate approximately $22,000 to be given to Awlaki.
“The money Farooq Mohammad provided included approximately $17,000 that had been provided by Asif and Sultane Salim in the United States,” the court document said.
Zubair’s brother was also eventually arrested and he admitted to conspiring to travel to Yemen to hand over thousands of dollars, equipment and other assistance to Al-Awlaki.
“He also admitted to soliciting an undercover FBI employee posing as a hitman to kidnap and murder U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary. He was sentenced to 27 ½ years in prison last year,” a 2018 Department of Justice document said.
Not booked in any case in India
A source in the security establishment said though Zubair will be questioned on his links with al Qaeda, his associates and their network in India, he was not involved or wanted in any terror attack in India.
“We do not have any record of him being involved in any case reported in India. But, he definitely can provide us with information about al Qaeda’s network across the world, their assets here in India,” the source said.
“We will also question him on the main financiers located in India, who may be sending money through Dubai. After he completes his quarantine, his custody will be taken by different agencies for questioning,” he added.
An engineering degree holder from US
Zubair graduated in engineering from Osmania University in 2001 and then went to the USA to his brother, Farooq Mohammad, to pursue higher studies.
According to the source quoted above, he studied engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2001 to 2005 and eventually moved to Toledo in Ohio in 2006, where he got married. He used to live with his parents in Texas before this.
In 2007, he became a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Zubair told Indian authorities that he was radicalised by watching speeches of Al-Awlaki, calling for a jihad against the US, said the source.
“He said he was highly impressed by the speeches and preaching of Al-Alwaki and wanted to meet him. This is how he got in touch with the members of the outfit, who then gave him the job of safely making transactions in the name of jihad,” the source added.