By Robert Boczkiewicz
DENVER (Reuters) - A Philadelphia man accused of being a member of an Islamic militant group U.S. authorities say is seeking to overthrow the secular government of Uzbekistan has been arrested on charges of conspiracy to provide support to a terrorist organization.
Bakhtiyor Jumaev, 45, was arrested on Thursday in Philadelphia on charges of supporting the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), the U.S. Attorney's Office for Colorado said. Federal authorities said Jumaev was a close friend of Jamshid Muhtorov, a 35-year-old Uzbek refugee living in suburban Denver who was arrested in January at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on a similar charge. Prosecution documents filed in court said Muhtorov was arrested as he headed overseas to fight on behalf of the IJU, which opposes the U.S.-backed Uzbek government and seeks to replace it with an Islamic state.
An FBI affidavit for Jumaev's arrest said German authorities disrupted an IJU plot in 2007 and arrested three operatives of the group targeting unidentified facilities with explosives.
It said Turkish authorities had seized weapons and detained militants with ties to the group in 2009. Court documents said the organization claimed responsibility for attacks in 2008 and 2009 that targeted U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, including a suicide attack against a U.S. military post. The group conducted simultaneous suicide bombings in 2004 of U.S. and Israeli embassies, as well as of a Uzbek government office, all in the capital Tashkent, the documents said. Jumaev and Muhtorov pledged support to the IJU, and Jumaev sent $300 to Muhtorov, intended for the organization, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The IJU has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of State as a terrorist group. Muhtorov has been in custody since his arrest and is awaiting further pre-trial court proceedings. Federal prosecutors said Muhtorov's arrest highlighted "the continued interest of extremists residing in the United States to join and support overseas terrorists." Jumaev was arrested without incident by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Xavier Briand)