A federal grand jury has indicted a fourth Brooklyn man on terrorism charges in connection to an alleged plot to send fighters and money to the Islamic State.
Dilkhayot Kasimov allegedly helped raise $1,600 to send another Brooklyn man to Syria with the intention of joining Islamic State militants, and handed the cash off to his co-defendant Akhror Saidakhmetov at John F. Kennedy Airport shortly before cops nabbed Saidakhmetov on his way to board a flight to Turkey, according to prosecutors.
Raising money for terrorist groups like the Islamic State, which is also known as “Isis” or “Isil,” is essential to helping those groups carry out attacks, and should be dealt with severely said one top law enforcement official.
“Money is the oxygen that fuels terrorism,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “This investigation proves again that we will leave no stone unturned to disrupt the finance, support, or membership in terrorist organizations like Isil.”
Cops arrested Kasimov on Feb. 25 along with his codefendants and held on an immigration charge, according to an Associated Press report. Federal officials charged Saidakhmetov and Abdurasul Juraboev, who shared a Midwood apartment, with attempting to join a foreign terrorist organization and charged Abror Habibov with material support for allegedly helping raise money to send the two to Syria, but Kasimov was not named in the original indictment. A spokeswoman for United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on why it took more than a month to indict the fourth suspect.
Kasimov worked closely with his coconspirators to raise money for the two men allegedly intent on traveling to Syria, and encouraged others to wage jihad, prosecutors said in a press release announcing the indictment. Habibov, who was arrested in Florida, was allegedly the ringleader and main fund-raiser in the plot, according to officials.
Kasimov is set to be arraigned on Wednesday. His attorney, Frederick Cohn, declined to comment.
Prosecutors have depicted the four men as hardened supporters of international jihad, but a 23-page criminal complaint released on Feb. 25 against Kasimov’s codefendants describes two indiscrete young men who openly told investigators they would be willing to carry out attacks on American soil, and a fund-raiser, Habibov, who questioned the intelligence of at least one of the men he was helping to finance.
Key allegations from that complaint include:
• Well before his arrest, Juraboev told agents he believed in the agenda of the Islamic State group, including the establishment of an Islamic caliphate by force in Iraq and Syria, but told agents at the time that he lacked the means to travel there.
• Juraboev was aware that he had landed on agents’ radar, telling a militant in Iraq that he could not fly anywhere but Uzbekistan without facing arrest.
• Saidakhmetov’s mother confiscated his passport and hung up on him when he begged for it back, telling her that it “is a sin to live in the land of the infidels.”
• Responding to calls by Islamic State propagandists for supporters in the west to carry out attacks, Juraboev and Saidakhmetov discussed alternative plans in case they could not make it to Syria, including joining the military in order to pass information along to the group, shooting military personnel, and killing police if they attempted to arrest them en route to Syria.
• Saidakhmetov told the informant “I will just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all the police … It is legal in America … We will go and purchase one handgun, then go and shoot one police officer. Boom … Then we will take his gun, bullets and 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.”
• Habibov apparently had reservations about the competency of the two men despite his willingness to finance the journey. He referred to Saidakhmetov as “little brother” and another person, presumably the informant, as “smart brother” In a recorded conversation with an unidentified person.