Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Dana J. Boente, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the sentence.
“Today, defendant Akhor Saidakhmetov was held accountable for attempting to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIS and his intention to kill law enforcement officers in the United States if unable to reach Syria,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “We will continue to work closely with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York to disrupt those trying to support foreign terrorist organizations here or abroad and to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Saidakhmetov’s plan was to become a battlefield soldier for ISIS, but should that not come to pass, he was prepared to bring the fight to our streets by attacking police officers and FBI agents in the U.S.,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “This case highlights the challenges law enforcement faces in confronting the modern-day terrorist threat. And while this is but one of the many successful investigations carried out by the FBI and our partners on the JTTF, there’s no doubt we have more work to do.”
“The defendant in this case pledged allegiance to ISIS, attempted to travel to Syria, and spoke of purchasing a gun to kill police officers and FBI agents,” stated NYPD Commissioner O’Neill. “He’ll be removed from the United States upon completion of the 15-year sentence announced today. I want to thank the members of law enforcement and the court system for their work on this case. It’s representative of the shared responsibility we have to keep each other, our City, and our nation safe.”
According to previous court filings, beginning in August 2014, Saidakhmetov repeatedly expressed his radical pro-ISIS views and his desire to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS. In September 2014, while watching videos of ISIS training camps in Syria, Saidakhmetov stated that he was going to travel to Syria to become a “Mujahid on the path of Allah.” During the next several months, Saidakhmetov discussed with a co-conspirator their plans to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of ISIS and reached out to purported ISIS representatives for information on traveling to join ISIS.
Saidakhmetov also stated that if he were unable to travel to Syria to join ISIS, he would attack law enforcement officers in the United States. Specifically, he stated that he would purchase a handgun or machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents.
On February 19, 2015, Saidakhmetov purchased a ticket to travel from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK Airport) in Queens, New York, to Istanbul, Turkey, departing on February 25, 2015. While at JFK Airport awaiting his flight, Saidakhmetov received approximately $1,600 from a coconspirator to cover his expenses, including the purchase of a firearm after his arrival in Syria to join ISIS. Saidakhmetov was arrested while attempting to board the flight to Turkey.
Following completion of his sentence, Saidakhmetov will be removed from the United States.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda, Peter W. Baldwin and David K. Kessler of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Steven Ward of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.