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Former University of Alabama student gets 7 years in prison for concealing al Qaeda financing

FBI agents. (Melanie Rodgers Cox/US Air Force)
April 30, 2022

A former Alabama resident was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for concealing the transmission of funds to be provided supporting al Qaeda.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Alaa Mohd Abusaad, 26, to 90 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for concealment of terrorism financing. Abusaad pleaded guilty to the charge in September 2019.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen, U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr. made the announcement.

Abusaad, who was living in Tuscaloosa at the time of the crimes, was initially charged by federal authorities in 2018. She was arrested in October 2018 in Ohio.

According to the plea agreement, between February and April 2018, Abusaad instructed an FBI undercover employee about how to send money to mujahedeen fighters. Abusaad told the undercover employee that money “…is always needed. You can’t have a war without weapons. You can’t prepare a soldier without equipment.”

Abusaad also advised the undercover employee on how to send money to avoid detection by law enforcement, including using fake names and addresses on electronic money transfers. Authorities said Abusaad introduced the undercover employee to a financial facilitator who could route their money to “brothers that work with aq” – meaning al Qaeda.

Investigation of the case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including FBI offices in Birmingham, Memphis, Nashville, Cleveland and Toledo.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Cornelius and Manu Balachandran and Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section prosecuted the case.


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