Two men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan living in Brooklyn, New York have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State.
The criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court today charging Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Kazakhstan; and Abror Habibov, 30, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan allegedly intended to commit acts of jihad in American if they weren’t able to travel to Syria to join ISIL, including trying to kill the President.
Meanwhile, a House task force to combat terrorists and foreign terrorist travel was announced today.
According to the criminal complaint, Juraboev and Saidakhmetov came to the attention of law enforcement last summer when they expressed support online for establishment by force of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The ensuing investigation discovered Juraboev and Saidakhmetov had a plan to travel to Turkey and then to Syria to engage in jihad on behalf of ISIL.
Saidakhmetov was arrested this morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was going to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev previously purchased a ticket to travel from New York to Istanbul and was scheduled to leave the US on March 29. The Department of Justice said Habibov ran a domestic support network that funded Saidakhmetov’s efforts to join ISIL.
According to the criminal complaint, last August Juraboev posted on an ISIS supporting Uzbek-language website that he would try to kill President Obama on order by ISIL. Saidakhmetov, meanwhile, expressed his intent to purchase a machine gun to kill police officers and FBI agents if they were stopped from joining ISIL.
ISIL – and Al Qaeda – have called for like-minded Muslims in the US and the West to engage in jihad by killing law enforcement officers and government officials.
“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” said US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch. “As alleged in the complaint, two of the defendants in this case sought to travel to Syria to join ISIL but were prepared to wage violent jihad here in the United States if they were unable to travel. Another defendant allegedly provided financial assistance and encouragement and operated a domestic network of individuals willing to support ISIL’s cause. We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf ofISIL and those who support them. Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.”
“The charges against Juraboev, Saidakhmetov and Habibov reflect our commitment to finding those who wish to provide material support to ISIL, as well as those committed to fighting on behalf of ISIL, either at home or abroad, and preventing them from doing so,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin. “The National Security Division will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters and financial resources to terrorist organizations operating in Iraq and Syria. I would like to commend all those whose tireless efforts helped bring these charges.”
“The defendants looked to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, by flying to Turkey in a vain attempt to evade detection. And several of the defendants planned to commit acts of terror here—in America—if they could not travel, to include killing FBI agents,” said Assistant Director-in-Charge FBI New York Field Office Diego G. Rodriguez. “The defendants violated the true tenants of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda. We rely on help from the community, the public and religious leaders to be mindful of those who could be radicalized. We cannot do this alone.”
“ISIL calls on its followers to come fight for the terrorist organization in Syria, and in messages to followers outside Syria, ISIL has called on them to attack police, intelligence officers or the military in their home countries including the United States,” said NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton. “By pledging allegiance to ISIL, these defendants conspired to fight for a designated foreign terrorist organization either in Syria, or even New York”. Bratton commended the work of the detectives and agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the guidance of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, throughout the investigation.”
“This threat is precisely why my colleagues on the House Committee on Homeland Security and I launched a bipartisan Task Force today,” said committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). “Americans are continuing to try to join and aid ISIS and more must be done to keep them off the battlefield. We must have a strategy to stop jihadists groups from recruiting them and to prevent those who have already traveled to join terrorists overseas from coming back and threatening our security. The Task Force will be working diligently to investigate this growing threat and ways we can deter and disrupt terror travel in the near term.”
Comprised of five Republicans and three Democrats, the Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel was created “in response to the threat from extremists fighting overseas and the danger they pose to the US homeland,” McCaul said.
The task force “will assess the US government’s efforts to obstruct terrorist travel and to keep violent extremists from entering the United States,” McCaul said, adding that it will meet with government agencies, top officials, outside experts and others to generate policy solutions and develop legislative recommendations to mitigate the threat.”