A criminal complaint was unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan with providing and attempting to provide material support, including training, services and personnel, to ISIS.
Asainov was detained overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and recently transferred into FBI custody. Asainov’s initial appearance is scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York.
The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director Mike McGarrity for the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office FBI and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
As alleged in the complaint and other court filings, the defendant resided in Brooklyn, New York. In December 2013, the defendant traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, which is a common transit point to obtain entry into Syria. He subsequently entered Syria, joined ISIS, and became a sniper for the terrorist organization. Over time, the defendant rose through the ranks to become an ISIS “emir” in charge of training other ISIS members in the use of weapons. He also attempted to recruit another individual to travel from the United States to Syria to fight for ISIS.
In March 2015, Asainov asked a confidential informant to send him approximately $2,800 so that he could purchase a scope for his rifle. Asainov subsequently sent the confidential informant two photographs depicting the defendant holding an assault rifle fitted with a scope. He messaged one associate exclaiming, in reference to ISIS, “we are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed” and stating that he wished to die on the battlefield.
“The United States is committed to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to fight for ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers. “As alleged in the court filings, Asainov traveled overseas, joined ISIS, and became a fighter and a sniper for the terrorist organization. He was ultimately detained overseas, turned over to the FBI, and will now face justice in an American courtroom. We hope countries around the world, including our European allies and partners, will likewise repatriate and prosecute their own citizens for traveling to support ISIS.”