WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four men have been indicted in Ohio for conspiring to aid al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate and its U.S.-born member Anwar al Awlaki, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
Suspects Yahya Farooq Mohammad, 37; his brother, Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, 36; Asif Ahmed Salim, 35; and his brother, Sultane Room Salim, 40, were charged in U.S. District Court in Cleveland with conspiring to funnel money to Awlaki in support of attacks on U.S. forces, the department said in a statement.
Awlaki, a cleric, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. U.S. intelligence had identified him as the head of external operations for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the militant group.
The charges allege that from January 2005 through January 2012 the four men conspired to provide money, equipment and other aid to Awlaki, the statement said.
The indictment contends that in July 2009 Farooq Mohammad traveled with two other people to Yemen to meet Awlaki. They did not meet him but gave an associate about $22,000 to be given to Awlaki, the statement said.
The four men were each indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, one count of providing material support and resources to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The Mohammads both face a count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
The Mohammads were Indian citizens who studied engineering at U.S. universities and married Americans. Asif Salim is a resident of Overland Park, Kansas, and his brother lives in the Columbus, Ohio, area, the statement said.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson)