Defendant Allegedly Was Part of ISIL Foreign Fighter Support Network and Solicited Funds to Send a Co-Defendant Overseas to Join ISIL
Earlier today, a second superseding indictment was unsealed charging Akmal Zakirov, 29, an Uzbeki national, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The defendant, who is charged along with four Brooklyn, New York, residents whose arrests have previously been announced, is scheduled to be arraigned at 2:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky of the Eastern District of New York.
The charges were announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly T. Currie of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez of the FBI’s New York Field Office, Commissioner William J. Bratton of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) New York Field Office.
As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, the investigation began last year when Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, one of Zakirov’s co-defendants, came to the attention of law enforcement. Juraboev posted on an Uzbek-language website that propagates ISIL’s ideology his offer to engage in an act of martyrdom on U.S. soil on behalf of ISIL, such as killing the President of the United States. The investigation subsequently revealed that Juraboev and another co-defendant, Akhror Saidakhmetov, planned to travel to Turkey and then to Syria for the purpose of waging violent jihad on behalf of ISIL. Saidakhmetov was arrested on Feb. 25, 2015, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev previously purchased a plane ticket to travel from New York to Istanbul and was scheduled to leave the United States in March 2015.
Zakirov, co-defendant Abror Habibov and others allegedly helped to fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts to join ISIL. Specifically, Zakirov and Habibov discussed providing their own money to purchase Saidakhmetov’s plane ticket and to cover his travel expenses, and they also solicited money for that purpose from other individuals. In the week leading up to Saidakhmetov’s scheduled departure, several individuals transferred a total of approximately $2,400 into Zakirov’s personal bank account, funds which were intended to facilitate Saidakhmetov’s travel to join ISIL.
“Zakirov is the fifth to be charged as part of the network of individuals alleged to have conspired and attempted to provide material support to ISIL,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Currie. “Our efforts to investigate terrorist support groups are ongoing -- we are committed to disrupting and deterring those who seek to support ISIL, whether by lending themselves or their funds to ISIL’s cause.”
“Any material support of a terrorist organization not only threatens our national security but violates federal law,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “In this case, Zakirov is alleged to have been part of a team committed to financing terrorist efforts. Fortunately, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force identified and stopped such activity. We will continue to work with our partners to uphold our mission and proactively protect the people of the U.S., both home and abroad, through these types of intelligence-based investigations.”
“This indictment illustrates the NYPD’s ongoing commitment to stem the efforts of organizations such as ISIL who do not hesitate to promote their violent ideology both here and abroad,” said Commissioner Bratton. “I would like to commend the efforts of the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators, along with our many law enforcement partners, who continue to thwart the efforts of those who would advance a terrorist agenda.”
“Providing material support to terrorist organizations that seek to do us harm represents a clear and present danger to the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Parmer. “Today’s indictment should serve as a warning to all those who attempt to assist ISIL and other terrorist organizations that no stone will go unturned to identify, apprehend, and have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
If convicted, Zakirov faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined Acting U.S. Attorney Currie in extending his grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises a large number of federal, state and local agencies from the region. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander A. Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda and Peter W. Baldwin of the Eastern District of New York, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Danya Atiyeh of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section.