The FBI conducted a series of terror raids in Brooklyn, New York on Wednesday, arresting three men from Uzbekistan who were planning to fly to Syria, join up with ISIS, and perhaps return to New York for a spot of domestic terrorism.
“The youngest man, identified in a criminal complaint as Akhror Saidakhmetov, allegedly posted on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that he would buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to join ISIS was thwarted,” reports NBC News. “In August 2014, 24-year-old suspect Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev, posted on the board that he would kill President Obama if ISIS asked him to.”
The plot is described as “aspirational, not operational,” but sounds like the early stages were operating quite well, as Saidakhmetov was arrested at JFK Airport trying to get on a plane to Istanbul. Juraboev’s plane ticket would have put him in Turkey a month later. Their travel was funded by the third suspect, Abror Habibov, who “operated a domestic support network.” That sounds “operational” by definition.
These individuals were apparently inspired by the Islamic State’s social media outreach program, including Tweets and forum posts calling for “lone wolf” jihadis to launch attacks in America and Europe. Fox News reports that “two of the men came to the attention of law enforcement last summer after they expressed online support for the groups.” They have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State, and could be looking at up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The UK Daily Mail quotes Saidakhmetov’s mayhem plans, laid out to a criminal informant, in greater detail. If he could not get into Syria, he said he would “just go buy a machine gun, AK-47, and shoot all police.” He had a four-stage plan in mind: “It is legal in American to carry a gun. We will go and purchase one handgun and then go and shoot on police officer. Boom! Then we will take his gun, bullets, and bulletproof vest. Then we will do the same with a couple of others. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters and kill the FBI people.”
The New York Daily News has a quote from a post Juraboev allegedly left on an ISIS-aligned website:
We too wanted to pledge our allegiance and commit ourselves while not present [in Syria.] I am in USA now but we dont have any arms. Is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is to shoot Obama and then get shot oursleves, will it do? That will strike fear in the heart of infidels.
They do not sound like the most polished of terror operatives. Then again, “lone wolf” jihad does not require much in the way of clever strategy or slick tradecraft. The Daily News ends its report with the sobering recollection that NYPD counter-terrorism chief John Miller warned back in June that there were more than 100 would-be jihadis lurking in the Big Apple.