NEW YORK – Two Brooklyn residents who sought to go to Syria and join the Islamic State group were charged with conspiring to support the terror group that has taken control of a swath of Iraq and Syria and publicly executed its captives. A third resident of the New York borough was also charged.
The U.S. is leading a coalition of nations in a battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with air attacks on the group’s positions.
Recruitment of people in the U.S. to join the terror group “represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
One of the men, Akhror Saidakhmetov, a Kazakhstan national, was arrested as he was preparing to travel from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Syria by way of Turkey, according to prosecutors. A co-conspirator, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, a citizen of Uzbekistan, had planned a similar trip for next month, prosecutors said.
The third man, Abror Habibov, also an Uzbek national, helped to pay for airline tickets, according to the U.S. He was arrested in Florida.
The men came to the attention of law enforcement last year after two of them expressed support online for the establishment of an Islamic state, prosecutors said.
Juraboev, 24, had posted to an Uzbek-language website that he wanted to “shoot Obama,” referring to U.S. President Barack Obama, to “strike fear into the hearts of infidels,” according to a complaint unsealed today in Brooklyn federal court.
When federal agents interviewed him in August, Juraboev acknowledged he wrote and posted the message and said he would harm Obama if he had the opportunity to do so, not “because of ill will toward him, but rather because of Allah,” according to the complaint.
Saidakhmetov, 19, also posted to the website and discussed plans with Juraboev for waging jihad in Syria, prosecutors alleged.
Over the course of the investigation, federal agents used a paid informant to gather more information about the men’s plans, which included asking Habibov for money. Habibov, who operates mall kiosks in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia, employed Saidakhmetov, according to prosecutors.
Two defendants were slated to appear in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom, prosecutors said.
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