Update - 4/7/2015: A fourth Brooklyn resident, Dilkhayot Kasimov, was also charged in this case on April 6, 2015.
Yesterday’s arrest of three New York City men underscores the persistent influence of ISIS propaganda on individuals residing in the U.S. and the related threat to domestic security.
Abdurasul Juraboev, a 24-year-old permanent U.S. resident with Uzbek citizenship, and Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 19-year-old U.S. permanent resident with Kazakh citizenship, both currently residing in Brooklyn, allegedly attempted to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and discussed the possibility of domestic attacks if they were unable to do so. Abror Habibov, a 30-year-old Brooklyn resident with Uzbek citizenship, allegedly provided the two with funds and encouragement.
All three were arrested last night; one at JFK Airport while attempting to board a flight to Turkey.
According to the FBI, the men spent time online either expressing support for ISIS or watching the terrorist group’s propaganda.
A Google Plus page that appears to have been created by Saidakhmetov includes a video called “Honored Sheikh inside Syria invite[s] Muslims to work for Khilafah and implement HT's constitution.” Khilafah is Arabic for Caliphate, a reference to ISIS. HT stands for Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamist organization that promotes theocratic governance. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not allied with ISIS, but the sentiment conveyed in the video was supportive of ISIS’s goals.
According to court documents, Juraboev was also allegedly recruited online by an ISIS supporter residing in Iraq, to whom he said “I need to sneak out of here with extreme caution without being noticed.”
In August, according to the complaint, Juraboev wrote a post on an Uzbek-language pro-ISIS website asking “is it possible to commit ourselves [to ISIS] as dedicated martyrs anyway while here [in the U.S.]? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels.”
Saidakhmetov expressed his intent to attack law enforcement. According to the criminal complaint, he stated “it is legal in America to carry a gun. We will go and purchase one handgun…then go and shoot one police officer…. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people...” The men also allegedly discussed planting a bomb on Coney Island.
The arrests in Brooklyn follow the arrest, also yesterday, of Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud a 23-year-old U.S. citizen from Ohio. Mohamud is subject to an ongoing investigation and was not linked to any particular terrorist group; court documents allege he sent funds and travelled to a “Middle Eastern terrorist group.”
To date, 10 U.S. residents have been arrested on Islamic extremist-related terror charges in 2015. The others include Christopher Lee Cornell, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen from Ohio, and six individuals of Bosnian descent –U.S. citizens and refugees residing in Missouri, Illinois and New York – accused of aiding ISIS.
Last year, 19 U.S. citizens and permanent residents were identified as having joined or attempting to join or aid ISIS.