Cousins arrested on charges of terrorist conspiracies

CHICAGO – Two Chicago-area cousins were arrested yesterday on charges out of Cleveland accusing them of conspiring to commit terrorist acts against Americans overseas, including U.S. military forces serving in Iraq.

Zubair A. Ahmed, 27, of suburban North Chicago, and Khaleel Ahmed, 26, of Chicago, were arrested after a Cleveland grand jury returned an indictment charging them and adding charges against three other men from Toledo, Ohio, already facing terrorism charges.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy included finding fresh recruits to wage “violent jihad” against Americans and locating sites for training them in the use of firearms, explosives and hand-to-hand combat.

In early July 2004, the two cousins, who are both American citizens, traveled to Cleveland to meet with a trainer and discuss possible training in the use of weapons, according to the indictment.

The indictment was announced by the U.S. attorney’s office in Cleveland and distributed to reporters by federal prosecutors in Chicago.

The three others from Ohio who were charged previously were Mohammad Zaki Amawi, 27, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, 42, and Wassim I. Mazloum, 22, prosecutors said.

The newly returned superseding indictment added more charges against them and added the names of the two Ahmeds to the list of defendants.

The Ahmeds were to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Chicago for their initial appearance in court yesterday and then be sent to Cleveland for arraignment, prosecutors in Chicago said.

Prosecutors in Cleveland said that in addition a separate indictment was returned charging Bilal Mazloum, 22, of Sylvania, Ohio – brother of Wassim I. Mazloum – with making a false statement to federal agents.