New York man sentenced to 15 years for plotting to help Islamic State

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 20, 2017 4:41 PM

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City resident who pleaded guilty to conspiring to support Islamic State was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday, U.S. prosecutors said.

Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 22-year-old citizen of Kazakhstan, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde. Prosecutors said Saidakhmetov tried to travel to Syria to join the militant group.

"We are disappointed with the sentence imposed by the court, and believe that a more nuanced and lenient outcome would better address both the needs of our client and the broader challenges posed by these types of cases," Adam Perlmutter, a lawyer for Saidakhmetov, said in an email.

Saidakhmetov was arrested in February 2015 as he was trying to board a plane to Istanbul. Prosecutors said he was planning to travel from there to Syria to join Islamic State, along with Abdurasul Juraboev, an Uzbek national living in Brooklyn.

Juraboev was also charged in the case. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in October.

Prosecutors said that Saidakhmetov at one point told a paid law enforcement informant that his mother had taken his passport because she feared he would try to join Isamic state. He told the informant that he planned to get back by saying he was going to Uzbekistan to visit relatives, according to court papers.

Prosecutors also said in court papers that Saidakhmetov expressed interest in joining the U.S. military to either pass information to Islamic State to help in their attacks or to open fire on soldiers to kill as many as possible.

Four other people were charged with helping Saidakhmetov and Juraboev in their plan.

One, Abror Habibov, pleaded guilty earlier this year. Charges are still pending against the other three, Dilkhayot Kasimov, Azizjon Rakhmatov and Akmal Zakirov, court records show.

Another Uzbek citizen, Dilshod Khusanov, in August was charged in a separate case with having discussed with Zakirov providing funds for Saidakhmetov’s trip, and helping others join Islamic State or al-Nusrah Front, another militant group.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)