Businessman arrested on charges he funded would-be Times Square bomber
NEW YORK — A businessman was arrested yesterday on charges that he unwittingly funded a Connecticut man’s attempt to bomb Times Square on May 1 by providing unlicensed banking services, an arrest that continues an effort by federal authorities to reduce the illegal flow of money that can finance terrorism.
Mohammad Younis, 44, was accused in an indictment in US District Court in Manhattan of engaging in hawala activities, an informal banking system that relies on wire transfers, couriers, and overnight mail.
He was arrested at his Long Island home.
A bail package agreed to by lawyers on both sides called for Younis to be released on $100,000 bail after his brief afternoon court appearance.
His lawyer, Phil Solages, said outside court, after Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck set bail, that his client “is not a terrorist.’’
“Mr. Younis is a hard working family man,’’ Solages said.
A release issued by US Attorney Preet Bharara said Younis provided thousands of dollars on April 10 to two individuals who traveled from Connecticut and New Jersey to meet him on Long Island at the direction of a coconspirator in Pakistan. Authorities said one of the individuals was Faisal Shahzad, who has pleaded guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts in connection with the attempted bombing. He is awaiting sentencing.
The release said there were no allegations that Younis was aware of the intended use of the funds.
“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,’’ Bharara said.
Younis, of Centereach, N.Y., was charged with conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business between Pakistan and the United States and conspiracy to do so. Both charges carry a potential sentence of up to five years in prison.