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Case Name United States v. Mohammad NS-OH-0002
Docket / Court 3:15-CR-00358-JZ ( N.D. Ohio )
Additional Docket(s) 3:18-cr-00186-JJH  [ 18-186 ]  Northern District of OH (U.S.)
3:18-cr-00165-JJH  [ 18-165 ]  Northern District of OH (U.S.)
3:16-cr-222  [ 16-222 ]  Northern District of OH (U.S.)
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Criminal cases challenging FISA surveillance
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)
Case Summary
On September 30, 2015, Yahya Farooq Mohammad, Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim, and Sultane Roome Salim were indicted in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio for conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, for providing material support ... read more >
On September 30, 2015, Yahya Farooq Mohammad, Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad, Asif Ahmed Salim, and Sultane Roome Salim were indicted in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio for conspiracy to provide and conceal material support and resources to terrorists, for providing material support and resources to terrorists and for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Farooq Mohammad and Ibrahim Mohammad were additionally indicted for conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The defendants were appointed federal public defenders and retained private counsel. The case was assigned to District Judge Jack Zouhary.

On December 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice notified the criminal defendants in this case that some of the evidence the government intended to use against them came from a FISA warrantless wiretap, pursuant to Sec. 702 of the FISA Amendment Acts of 2008. This notice allows criminal defendants to challenge the constitutionality of the government's surveillance techniques. All cases challenging this provision are available in the Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704) special collection.

On July 6, 2016, Yahya Mohammad was indicted in another case (3:16-cr-00222) in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio for attempted first degree murder of a federal officer, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire. While Yahya Mohammad was detained and housed at the Lucas County Corrections Center in Toledo, Ohio, pending resolution of this case, he had told another inmate that he wanted to hire someone to kill Judge Zouhary. The inmate reported Mohammad to the FBI and introduced Mohammad to an FBI undercover employee, who posed as someone willing to kill Judge Zouhary for money.

On July 12, 2016, Judge Zouhary ordered recusal of himself from the case due to Yahya Mohammad's attempt to murder him. Chief Judge Solomon Oliver of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio had requested that Chief Judge Guy Cole of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals appoint an out-of-district judge to hear both cases due to their close relation with each other. The cases were transferred to Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. from the Southern District of Ohio.

On September 30, 2016, the defendants filed a motion for disclosure of FISA-related materials and to suppress the fruits or derivatives obtained from warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of FISA.

On November 18, 2016, the government filed an ex parte in camera motion for a protective order pursuant to Section 4 of the Classified Information Procedures Act and Rule 16(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The government filed a supplemental motion on February 16, 2018. Both motions were submitted under seal with the Classified Information Security Officer.

On July 18, 2017, Chief Judge Cole of the Sixth Circuit reassigned Yahya Mohammad's three co-defendants, Ibrahim Mohammad, Asif Salim, and Sultane Salim, to District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick. However, Judge Sargas was to continue hearing the cases in regard to Yahya Mohammad.

On November 8, 2017, after Yahya Mohammad pled guilty to one count of providing material support to terrorists in this case (count 1) and one count of solicitation to commit a crime of violence (against Judge Zouhary) in case 3:16-cr-222 (count 2), Judge Sargus sentenced Mohammad to 180 months (minus time served) for count 1 and 240 months for count 2, with 90 of those months to run concurrently with count 1. The remaining 150 months were to run consecutively with count 1 for a total of 330 months; 10 years supervised released; and a $200 special assessment fee. No fines or restitution were imposed.

On March 20, 2018, Judge Helmick granted the government's motion for a protective order (originally filed on November 18, 2016) under Section 4 of the Classified Information Procedure's Act (CIPA). Judge Helmick denied the defendants' motions to suppress evidence obtained from a warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of FISA, to suppress fruits or derivatives of electronic surveillance, to compel discovery, and for disclosure related to FISA amendments. He noted that he had provided classified versions of his opinion to the Classified Information Security Officer for service to the relevant agencies for classification review.

On September 11, 2018, an unclassified version of Judge Helmick's opinion on the government's classified, ex parte, in camera motion for a protective order was released. 339 F.Supp.3d 724. Although even the unclassified version of the opinion is heavily redacted, it shows Judge Helmick finding that the defendants' objections to an ex parte, in camera review of the government's Section 4 filing without merit because none of the government's surveillance had been deemed unlawful. He further noted that nothing he had seen in his review of the classified documents in this case suggested that the government was using CIPA to conceal unlawful surveillance techniques. Furthermore, although he acknowledged that he was "not in an optimal position to act as surrogate defense counsel," Judge Helmick maintained that he had sufficient knowledge of the case and the defendants' theories of the case to determine whether the government's Section 4 filings discussed information that would be relevant and helpful to the defense.

On September 11, 2018, Judge Helmick released an unclassified memorandum opinion denying the defendants' several motions regarding the government's FISA evidence. First, he denied the defendants' request for disclosure of the FISA materials because he concluded that the challenged FISA collection was lawful. Therefore, Judge Helmick believed that disclosure to the defendants was not necessary to make an accurate determination of the legality of the surveillance. He rejected the defendants' argument that disclosure of FISA materials are permitted to the extent that due process requires it; the Sixth Circuit had already rejected an argument similar to the defendants', holding that "FISA's requirement that the district court conduct an ex parte, in camera review of FISA materials does not deprive a defendant of due process." Second, Judge Helmick denied the defendants' motion for suppression of the evidence obtained or derived from FISA surveillance and physical searches because he found that the surveillance and searches were conducted in compliance with the FISC's orders, which had properly found the existence of probable cause.

Meanwhile, the government negotiated plea agreements with the remaining defendants. On April 11, 2018 the government filed informations in separate cases charging all three defendants with financing terrorism in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339C. All three defendants immediately pleaded guilty to the new charges. The case against Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad was docketed as 3:18-cr-165 and Asif Ahmed Salim and Sultane Roome Salim's cases were docketed as 3:18-cr-186. Judge Helmick continued to preside over the new cases. According to a DOJ press release the basis for these charges was providing money to the radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was later killed by an American drone strike in Yemen.

All three were sentenced between November 9, 2018 and January 22, 2019. Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad and Sultane Roome Saslim received sentences of 60 months incarceration and Asif Ahmed Salim received a sentence of 72 months incarceration. At the sentencing, the government moved to dismiss the original 2015 charges cases against them the three defendants. Judge Helmick granted all these requests.

None of these defendants appealed their convictions or sentences and all their cases are presumably closed, though Sultane Roome Salime filed a motion for compassionate release in February of 2021.

Two years after his sentencing on September 9, 2019, Yahya Farooq Mohammad filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals to the Sixth Circuit. That case was docketed as 19-3870. The Sixth Circuit denied Mohammed a certificate of appealability on August 11, 2020.

There has been no action in Mohammed's case since that date and it is presumably closed.

Lisa Limb - 03/20/2019
Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 02/24/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Confidentiality
Courts
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Criminal
Causes of Action FISA Title I Warrant (Electronic Surveillance), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1812
FISA Title III Warrant (Physical Search), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1821-1829
FISA Title VII targeting order (Sections 702, 703, 704), 50 U.S.C. 1881a, 1881b, 1881c
Defendant(s) Asif Ahmed Salim
Ibrahim Zubair Mohammad
Sultane Roome Salim
Yahya Farooq Mohammad
Plaintiff Description This is a criminal case brought by the U.S. government against four defendants charged with providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, bank fraud, and obstruction of justice. The defendants were subject to surveillance under FISA.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Criminal Conviction
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 09/30/2015
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
N.D. Ohio
02/15/2019
3:18-cr-00165-JJH
NS-OH-0002-9002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
02/25/2019
3:15-cr-358
NS-OH-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
08/13/2020
3:16-cr-00222-EAS-1
NS-OH-0002-9003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
02/19/2021
3:18-cr-00186-JJH
NS-OH-0002-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Ohio
09/30/2015
Indictment [ECF# 1]
NS-OH-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
12/21/2015
Notice of Intent to Use Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Information [ECF# 27]
NS-OH-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
07/06/2016
Indictment (Case 3:16-cr-222) [ECF# 1]
NS-OH-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
03/21/2018
Classified Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 373]
NS-OH-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
04/11/2018
Information [Mohammad]-Count One (Concealment of Financing of Terrorism) [ECF# 1]
NS-OH-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
04/12/2018
Information [Salim]-Count One (Concealment of Financing Terrorism) [ECF# 1]
NS-OH-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
04/30/2018
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 367]
NS-OH-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Ohio
09/11/2018
Unclassified Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 374]
NS-OH-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gilman, Ronald Lee (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0003
Helmick, Jeffrey James (N.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0004 | NS-OH-0002-0005 | NS-OH-0002-9001 | NS-OH-0002-9002
Sargus, Edmund A. Jr. (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9003
Suhrheinrich, Richard Fred (E.D. Mich., Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0003
Sutton, Jeffrey S. (Sixth Circuit) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Freeman, Michael (New York) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9001 | NS-OH-0002-9002 | NS-OH-0002-9003
Georgalis, Christos N. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000
Gonzalez, Gregory (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9003
Herdman, Justin E. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0007 | NS-OH-0002-0008
Morford, James L (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9001
Shepherd, Matthew W. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-0002 | NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9001 | NS-OH-0002-9002 | NS-OH-0002-9003
Smith, David C. (Kansas) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boyk, Charles E. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000
Czarnecki, John (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000
Durkin, Thomas Anthony (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9003
Kadri, Cherrefe A. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9001
Klucas, David Lee (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9002
McElroy, Neil S. (Ohio) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000
Moreno, Linda (Florida) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9001
Waters, Robin Valentine (Illinois) show/hide docs
NS-OH-0002-9000 | NS-OH-0002-9003

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