Three Brooklyn men have been arrested during FBI and NYPD terror raids Wednesday after allegations surfaced that they planned on traveling to Syria to join ISIS.
24- and 30-year-old Uzbekistan citizens Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev and Abror Habibov, and 19-year-old Kazakhstan citizen Akhror Saidakhmetov also posted messages online about planting a bomb on Coney Island and shooting police officers.
As reported by NBC New York, a criminal complaint shows Saidakhmetov made comments on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that if his plan to join ISIS failed, he would buy a machine gun and shoot FBI agents and the police. The criminal complaint also shows that in August 2014, Juraboev posted on the same board that he would kill President Obama and plant a bomb on Coney Island if requested to by ISIS and asked for help getting weapons.
Although law enforcement officials say any potential homegrown threat not operational, but aspirational, they moved in believing the suspects’ plans for travel were looming and their desire to join ISIS real. The men were being tracked by agents for at least 18 months.
A conversation recorded in January detailed how Saidakhmetov told an FBI informant if he could not obtain travel documents to Syria that he would “just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police.”
Saidakhmetov continued to say “We will go and purchase one handgun … then go and shoot one police officer. Boom … Then, we will take his gun, bullets and a bulletproof vest … then, we will do the same with a couple of others. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people.”
Saidakhmetov was arrested Wednesday trying to board a flight to Istanbul at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Having already purchased his plane ticket to Istanbul from New York, Juraboev was scheduled to leave March 29. Habibov, helped fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts to join ISIS through a domestic support network he operated. Habibov employed Saidakhmetov last fall and winter at one of the kiosks he operates that sell kitchenware and repair mobile phones across several states in retail malls.
Saidakhmetov called his mother last week to get his passport and when she asked him where he was going, he told her, “If a person has a chance to join Islamic State and does not go there, on judgment day he will be asked why, and that it is a sin to live in the land of infidels.” Agents spotted Saidakhmetov and Habibov arrive at a Coney Island Avenue travel agency together around the same time. It was at this time that Saidakhmetov purchased his ticket to Istanbul.
All three have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terror group; information wasn’t available immediately for the suspects’ attorneys. It is expected Juraboev and Saidakhmetov will appear back in Brooklyn court Wednesday, while Habibov’s first court appearance will take place in Florida.
“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 FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez in a statement. “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.”