BROOKLYN — Three Brooklyn men — one who threatened to kill President Obama and plant a bomb in Coney Island — were arrested by the FBI and NYPD Wednesday for plotting to join the Islamic State, the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney charged.
Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested by federal agents Wednesday morning on charges that they conspired to supply material support to the terrorist group. They were held without bail after being arraigned in Brooklyn federal court later in the afternoon.
Saidakhmetov, originally from Kazakhstan, had tried to board a plane to Turkey en route to Syria to join ISIS when he was caught, federal prosecutors said.
Investigators had been monitoring Juraboev since August 2014 when the Uzbeki man posted a message on a terror website Hilofatnews.com describing his violent intention, according to the criminal complaint.
"I am in USA now but we don't have any arms. But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here?" Juraboev, who lived in Midwood, wrote on Aug. 8, 2014, according to the complaint.
"What I'm saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of infidels."
Saidakhmetov said he would buy a machine gun and shoot NYPD and FBI agents if they tried to stop his efforts to join ISIS, according to a criminal complaint.
"We will go and purchase one handgun...then go 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," Saidakhmetov told agents on Jan. 19, according to court papers.
Juraboev wrote that he had no personal animosity toward the Obama, but would kill him nevertheless because, he said, of the president's support of Israel and the recent ISIS bombing, prosecutors said.
He also turned his sites on a local target.
"Juraboev added that he would also plant a bomb on Coney Island if he was ordered to do so by ISIS," the feds charged.
Both Juraboev and Saidakhmetov were interviewed by FBI agents at various times starting in August 2014 and repeated their threats in conversation and written statements to agents, prosecutors said.
"I also want to fight and sincerely become a martyr under the Islamic Caliphate against the polytheists and infidels," Juraboev said in a written statement when law enforcement agents visited him on Aug. 18, according to court papers.
"Even if that person is Obama! What Allah desires will happen."
Authorities monitoring the website traced the message back to Juraboev's Brooklyn address through is computer's IP address, the criminal complaint said.
They visited his home on Aug. 15 and Juraboev let agents inspect his iPhone, which showed that he had visited Hilofatnews, court papers said.
He then allegedly made statements about being willing to kill Obama.
A confidential informant then befriended Juraboev at a Brooklyn mosque in late September, who then introduced him to Saidakhmetov.
Saidakhmetov told the informant on Sept. 24 that he wanted to travel to Syria to wage jihad, but that his mother had taken away his passport fearing he intended to join ISIS, according to the complaint.
A few months later Saidakhmetov was allegedly recorded telling Juraboev he wanted to join the U.S. military so he could pass along information to ISIS.
Juraboev was also allegedly in contact with an ISIS representative based in Iraq who ran an ISIS-based website called the Islamic State News.
"How come you are not coming here? Or is Jihad for you? Or the oppression of Muslims by infidels not enough for you?" the ISIS representative, Abu Bakr Bagdodi Halifat Dovlati Islamiya, told Juraboev in an Aug. 26 message, according to court papers.
"If right now I decide to go to the airport and go anywhere, except for Uzbekistan, they may arrest me. It's because of what I told them about Obama," Juraboev allegedly responded to Bagdodi. "What should I do? I need to sneak out of here with extreme caution without being noticed by them."
Habibov funded the mission through his kitchenware and mobile phone repair business, according to the complaint.
Saidakhmetov told the informant that Habibov paid for the bulk of his ticket after taking him to Nil Travel on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue X Feb. 19, according to court papers and workers at the travel agency.
“I was talking to some kind of potential terrorist face to face just last week," travel agent Frank Cakir, 25, told DNAinfo over the phone. "I’m still nervous, that's all I feel right now. My hands are still shaking.”
Cakir added that he didn't notice anything unusual about Saidakhmetov.
"He was totally relaxed. He was totally normal. He was just saying, ‘I need a ticket. I’m going to Turkey.’"
After purchasing the ticket, Saidakhmetov told the informant, who had volunteered to travel with him, that they could kill a police officer, take the officer's weapon and then shoot any other law enforcement who responded to the scene if they were confronted at the airport, prosecutors said.
Habibov was arrested in Jacksonville, Fl., according to the feds.
Juraboev and Saidakhmetov were both permanent legal residents in the U.S. and Habibov was in the country legally and then overstayed his visa, officials said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The suspects were charged with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and were arraigned in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday afternoon.
Juraboev wore a gray sweatshirt and green hat during the arraignment. He held his hands behind his back and kept clenching and unclenching his fists.
Saidakhmetov wore a green sweatshirt and red sneakers.
Their defense attorney, Adam Perlmutter, said the use of an informant was questionable.
"We know from other cases that informants are incredibly manipulative and these are snippets of conversations that are in the complaint," the attorney said.
He added that the federal government could have done more to help the young men when they realized they were being radicalized.
"If these allegations are true, and they're just allegations, they really make us question the approach that the federal government takes to young Muslim men in America. They are very hard-fisted tactics," Perlmutter said.
"There's no attempt to intervene, to speak to, explore to understand. There's just the rush to prosecution, to arrest and to conviction. I remind everybody that the presumption of innocence is still the law of the land in America."