By Jerry Markon
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 5:46 PM
A New York man unwittingly transferred thousands of dollars from the Pakistani Taliban to fund May's failed Times Square bombing, authorities said Wednesday.
Mohammad Younis, 44, was indicted on charges of operating an unlicensed money transfer business known as a hawala, an informal network popular in South Asia and the Middle East. He was arrested Wednesday at his home in Long Island, N.Y., by agents of the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Court documents say that in April, Younis met with Faisal Shahzad, who pleaded guilty in the attempt to detonate an explosives-packed Nissan Pathfinder on May 1 at one of New York's busiest intersections. The failed attack dramatized what the U.S. government calls the growing threat of homegrown terrorism.
Federal officials said Younis provided Shahzad with thousands of dollars for the bombing at the direction of a co-conspirator in Pakistan. They did not identify the co-conspirator but noted that Shahzad said at his plea hearing in June that the April cash payment had been arranged in Pakistan by Taliban associates. The indictment of Shahzad said he received $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban to carry out the plot.
Younis pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan federal court Wednesday on charges of conducting an unlicensed money-transmitting business and conspiring to do so. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. A lawyer for Younis could not be located.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Younis "unwittingly funded a terror plot that, if successful, would have caused mass casualties in New York City.''
Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York office, said the bureau "will leave no stone unturned" in its investigation of Shahzad's activities and other terrorist plots.
The U.S. government this month designated the Pakistani Taliban a terrorist group and charged its leader with involvement in a December suicide bombing that killed seven Americans at a CIA operating base in Afghanistan.
The moves marked an effort to heighten the campaign against the militant group, which has expanded its operations to include attacks against the United States, beyond CIA drone strikes and other lethal means.