A Brooklyn man accused of trying to join the Islamic State group, whose case raised alarms about terrorist groups’ recruitment in the United States when it was filed in 2015, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday.
Akhror Saidakhmetov, 21, a mall kiosk worker arrested on a Kennedy Airport jetway with a ticket to Turkey, faces up to 15 years in prison after admitting he conspired to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He is one of six alleged ISIS supporters charged in connected cases.
“In my understanding this is an organization that is committing violent acts against the people,” Saidakhmetov, a citizen of Kazakhstan, told U.S. District Judge William Kuntz.
Saidakhmetov and a co-defendant who previously pleaded guilty, Abdurasul Juraboev, were arrested after enthusing online and in conversations with an informant about jihadi violence, despite efforts by Saidakhmetov’s mother to confiscate his passport, according to the charges.
Defense lawyer Adam Perlmutter said his client would have faced up to 60 years in prison if he hadn’t pleaded guilty. “He’s a confused and isolated 21-year-old kid who fell into a situation where he was taken advantage of,” Perlmutter said.
“The defendant was committed to traveling to Syria to join [ISIS] or to conducting a domestic terror attack if unable to travel to Syria,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers.