[JURIST] A Long Island man was charged Wednesday with providing funds to the man who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May. The US Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York, FBI and New York Police Department [official websites] filed an indictment [press release, PDF] against Mohammad Younis, charging him with conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business and conspiracy to conduct an unlicensed money transmitting business. The document alleges that, in April, Younis unknowingly transferred funds to individuals, including Faisal Shahzad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], through hawala, a “value transfer system in which money does not physically cross international boundaries through the banking system.” The transfer was arranged in Pakistan by Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) [CTC Sentinel backgrounder], the extremist group that allegedly trained Shahzad to make and use explosive devices. Younis was not licensed to perform such transfers or to operate a money transfer business, but authorities admit he was unaware that he was transferring money to fund the attempted car bombing. US Attorney Preet Bharara stated that the charges against Younis should serve as a reminder of how international terrorists operate:
By engaging in the alleged conduct, Mohammad Younis unwittingly funded a terror plot that, if successful, would have caused mass casualties in New York City. These charges remind us how international terrorists use the cover of informal money transfer systems to avoid detection and to inflict catastrophic harm.
If he is found guilty, Younis could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison—five years for each charge.
Last week, Pakistani police announced the arrest of three men [JURIST report] suspected of helping Shahzad plan and fund his failed endeavor. Officials said that the young Pakistani citizens, Shahid Hussain, Shoaib Mughal and Humba Akhtar, who were arrested following a long-running investigation, confessed their involvement to police and are being charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism. The men reportedly provided Shahzad with more than USD $13,000 and arranged for him to meet and train with Hakimullah Mehsud [NYT profile], the head of TTP. The suspects are reputed to have close ties to Mehsud. Shahzad pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in June to 10 counts of terrorism and weapons charges relating to his role in the attempted Times Square car bombing. He indicated that his actions reflected an act of war and that the attempted attacks would continue until US forces leave Iraq and Afghanistan.