WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. January 23, 2017:
On Thursday, Akhror Saidakhmetov, a citizen of Kazakhstan and a resident of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Today’s plea took place before United States District Judge William F. Kuntz, II. At sentencing, Saidakhmetov faces up to 15 years in prison and presumptive removal to his country of origin, Kazakhstan.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, of the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and New York and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the New York City Police Department.
According to previous court filings, Saidakhmetov became keenly interested in traveling to ISIL-controlled territories in order to wage violent jihad. In August 2014, he made the following online posting referencing a video containing footage of multiple individuals pledging allegiance to ISIL and showing mass executions by ISIL of Iraqi forces captured during ISIL’s takeover of Mosul, Iraq: “Allohu Akbar I was very happy after reading this, my eyes joyful so much victory.”
During the fall and winter of 2014-2015, Saidakhmetov and codefendant Abdurasul Juraboev made plans to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIL. The defendants’ efforts to travel culminated in Saidakhmetov’s arrest on February 25, 2015 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens while attempting to board a flight for Turkey. Juraboev was also arrested on the same day; at the time of his arrest, he had already purchased a ticket for a flight to Turkey. Juraboev pled guilty in August 2015 to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and is awaiting sentencing.
“The defendant was committed to traveling to Syria to join ISIL or to conducting a domestic terror attack if unable to travel to Syria,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Thanks to the efforts of FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York, we have prevented two local residents – Saidakhmetov and his codefendant Abdurasul Juraboev – from becoming foreign fighters in Syria or attacking victims here in the United States.”
“Akhror Saidakhmetov admitted that he conspired to provide material support to ISIL and that he was prepared to commit violence overseas or here in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is counterterrorism. This case reflects our commitment to disrupting and holding accountable those who wish to wage violence on behalf of ISIL, either at home or abroad.”
“As we presented in our case, Akhror Saidakhmetov clearly expressed the desire to commit violence, either domestically or abroad, on behalf of a terrorist organization. His failure to carry out this desire is a testament to the tireless efforts of FBI New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). I would like to thank the men and women on the JTTF who work together every day to keep the region safe,” said Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Saidakhmetov attempted to join ISIL in its violent jihad. Terrorism, and its threat to the homeland, is why HSI continues to be a leading contributor to the Joint Terrorism Task Force here in New York and across the country,” said Special-Agent-in-Charge Melendez, of HSI New York.
“This defendant pledged allegiance to ISIL, which has called on its followers to attack the United States and specifically New York City. The defendant also attempted to travel to Syria,” said NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill. “This guilty plea is another example of the collaborative work of the members of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.”
The government’s case was prosecuted by the office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda, Peter W. Baldwin, and David K. Kessler of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Steven Ward of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
AKHROR SAIDAKHMETOV, 21