An Uzbeki man from Brooklyn who operated several mall kiosks pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to raising money as part of a plot to send a co-defendant to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.
Abror Habibov, 30, was charged in 2015 along with co-defendants Abdurasul Juraboev — who told FBI agents he was ready to assassinate President Barack Obama if ISIS ordered it — and Akhror Saidakhmetov. All three have now pleaded guilty, but three others have since been charged with helping raise money.
“I agreed with others to raise money in order for an individual to buy a plane ticket to Turkey to join ISIS and be trained as a fighter,” Habibov told Brooklyn U.S. District Judge William Kuntz. “ . . . While doing these things I knew that it was wrong.”
Habibov, who has been in custody since his arrest, faces up to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to assist a foreign terrorist organization and up to 20 years for conspiring to buy a firearm that could be used in the fighting, which he also pleaded guilty to.
Saidakhmetov, who worked for Habibov, was arrested on a jetway at JFK Airport boarding a flight to Turkey on Feb. 25, 2015. Juraboev, whose posting on an ISIS propaganda website first alerted law enforcement authorities to the trio, had bought a ticket to leave the next month.
“I am in USA now but we don’t have any arms,” Juraboev wrote on the ISIS forum, Hilofatnews, in 2014. “But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do?”
The FBI later had an informant approach Juraboev at a mosque and offer to travel with the two. Saidakhmetov discussed joining the military to spy for ISIS, or embarking on a terror campaign in the United States if he was blocked from going abroad.
“It is legal in America to carry a gun,” he allegedly said. “We will go and purchase one handgun . . . then go and shoot one police officer. Boom . . . Then we will take his gun, bullets and a 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.”
Kuntz did not set a sentencing date for Habibov. Juraboev, 27, of Brooklyn, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22, and Saidakhmetov, 22, also of Brooklyn, will be sentenced on Oct. 25.