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Press Release

Columbus Man Charged With Providing Material Support To Terrorists

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

WASHINGTON –A federal grand jury has charged Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 23, of Columbus, with one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, one count of attempting to provide and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and one count of making false statements to the FBI involving international terrorism in an indictment returned in Columbus, Ohio.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien and the FBI’s Columbus Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), announced the indictment returned today.

According to court documents, Mohamud left the United States in April 2014 for the purpose of training and fighting with terrorists in Syria.

As a naturalized citizen of the United States, he obtained a U.S. passport and purchased a one-way ticket to Greece. He did not board his connecting flight to Athens, Greece during his layover in Istanbul, Turkey, and instead completed pre-arranged plans to travel to Syria.

According to the indictment, Mohamud stated that, after arriving in Syria, he obtained training from a group in shooting weapons, breaking into houses, explosives and hand-to-hand combat. Mohamed also stated that, after completing this training, he was instructed by a cleric in the organization to return to the United States and commit an act of terrorism.

“According to the charges in the indictment, Mohamud allegedly traveled to Syria to train with and fight alongside terrorists” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “Identifying and neutralizing the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters who return to the United States is one of the National Security Division’s highest priorities.  I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this ongoing investigation and today’s charges.”

“Mohamud sought and obtained terrorist training in Syria,” U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart said. “Upon his return to the United States, he discussed carrying out acts in the United States.”

"The Joint Terrorism Task Force and our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to protect our community," stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers. "Cases like this are tangible reminders of the threats we face each day."

“Our office worked with the JTTF to assist in the arrest and continued detention of Mohamud, including securing a terrorism indictment in State court,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said. “That state court charge will now be dismissed and that cooperation will continue in federal court with Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Gibson being named to the trial team to assist in the prosecution of the federal indictment that was announced today.”

Providing material support to terrorists and providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization – in this case, namely, Jabhat al-Nusrah – are each crimes punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Making false statements involving international terrorism carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

Mohamud is scheduled to be transferred into federal custody based on today’s indictment.  He was arrested and detained on state charges on Feb. 21, 2015.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation of JTTF, and Assistant United States Attorneys Doug Squires, Dana Peters and Salvador Dominguez, Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Gibson with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office and Department of Justice National Security Division Trial Attorney Bridget Behling, who are prosecuting the case.

An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Updated July 23, 2015