Federal officials today charged three New York residents on charges of trying to join ISIS, with one offering to assassinate President Obama for the Islamic State.
Two Uzbekistan citizens — Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, and Abror Habibov, 30 — were charged, along with one Kazakh, 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov. Each faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The New York office of the FBI said authorities began watching Juraboev in August 2014 when he posted on an Uzbek-language jihadi website. He and Saidakhmetov forged a plan to travel to Turkey to join ISIS, and the latter was arrested today at JFK trying to board a flight to Istanbul.
Juraboev’s flight was scheduled for next month, and he was arrested today in Brooklyn. Habibov, who was allegedly helping finance their trip, was arrested in Jacksonville, Fla. All lived in Brooklyn.
Juraboev and Saidakhmetov are legal permanent U.S. residents, while Habibov visited legally and overstayed his visa.
“This is real. This is the concern about the lone wolf inspired to act without ever going to the Mideast or the concern of once they get to the Mideast acquire fighting skills, capabilities and then attempting to return to the country,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters today.
United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, whose nomination to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is stalled in the Senate, said in a statement the flow of fighters “represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies.”
“As alleged in the complaint, two of the defendants in this case sought to travel to Syria to join ISIL but were also prepared to wage violent jihad here in the United States. A third defendant allegedly provided financial assistance and encouragement. We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them,” Lynch said. “Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.”
Juraboev made this threat to kill Obama in the August 2014 web posts. Saidakhmetov expressed his intent, reportedly to an informant, to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if they stood in the way of his plan to go join ISIS.