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Three Brooklyn men plead not guilty to plot to join Islamic State

In this courtroom sketch, defendants Akhror Saidakhmetov, fourth

In this courtroom sketch, defendants Akhror Saidakhmetov, fourth from left, and Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, fourth from right, stand in Federal Court at their arraignment, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Brooklyn. Credit: Christine Cornell

Three men from Brooklyn pleaded not guilty Friday to a federal indictment charging them with plotting to travel overseas to join the terrorist group Islamic State.

One by one, Abdurasul Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, who were heavily shackled, entered their pleas in federal District Court in Brooklyn before Judge William Kuntz.

They are each charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The defendants are all natives of former Soviet republics. Saidakhmetov is a Kazakh; the other two are Uzbeks.

A woman identified as Saidakhmetov's mother cried during the arraignment. She declined to comment afterward.

Federal prosecutors have said that if there was a failure to travel to Syria to join Islamic State -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- to fight jihad, an alternative plot would involve attacks in the United States, including planting a bomb at Coney Island and attempting to kill President Barack Obama.

At the time of their arrests in February, law enforcement officials stressed that the alleged plotters' goals were "aspirational."

After the arraignment, Habibov's attorney, Eric Franz of Manhattan, said, "My client is shocked and astounded by the allegations."

Saidakhmetov's attorney, Adam Perlmutter of Manhattan, said, "My client has maintained he is not guilty . . . and is very frightened about what is happening to him."

The judge ordered the defendants continue to be held in permanent detention, pending trial, and set the next date for a hearing in the case for June 19.

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