FBI arrests three New Yorkers on terrorism charges
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The FBI arrested three men on charges of attempting to provide support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Justice Department said Wednesday.
 
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Police arrested one of the men, Akhror Saidakhmetov, early Wednesday morning as he attempted to board a plane from New York City to Istanbul. Abror Habibov is charged with helping to pay for his trip, and Abdurasul Juraboev is charged with planning to travel to join the terror group next month.
 
Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, announced the charges in a press release Wednesday.
 
“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” Lynch said in a statement.
 
“We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them," she added, using an alternate name for the terror group. "Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.”
 
Juraboev and Habibov are Uzbek citizens, while Saidakhmetov is from Kazakhstan.
 
Court documents allege that Saidakhmetov and Juraboev both arranged to fly to Istanbul and then later join ISIS out of fear that U.S. authorities would track flights closer to ISIS-controlled land. The documents add that Saidakhmetov’s mother took his passport out of fear that he wanted to travel to “wage jihad,” but he worked with a confidential informant to receive new travel documents.
 
He also told the informant that, if he was unable to get new documents, he would attack the FBI headquarters and “kill the FBI people.”
 
“I will just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police,” he said, according to court documents.
 
Juraboev, who had planned to travel later, allegedly admitted to federal agents in August that he had posted on an Uzbek-language website that supports ISIS about killing President Obama. He added that he would kill the president if anyone from ISIS told him to, as long they justified it through Islam, and that he would plant a bomb on Coney Island in New York if asked to, according to the documents.
 
The three men face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Counterterrorism officials have previously warned that thousands of foreign fighters are traveling to join ISIS, and law enforcement has already caught a handful of American citizens trying to join the terror group.
 
House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said the incident underscores the need for the bipartisan "Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel," which McCaul and raking member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) launched Wednesday. 
 
He added that the task force "will be working diligently to investigate this growing threat and ways we can deter and disrupt terror travel in the near term.”
 
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, praised law enforcement and intelligence officials on their teamwork leading to the arrests. 
 
"It is yet another reminder that even in the United States, ISIL's barbarism has found its adherents and that there are those who would travel to Syria to join the fight or who would seek to provide assistance from afar," he said Wednesday in a statement.
 
"America cannot relax its vigilance - we must work to enhance our ability to find and stop Americans who seek to aid these killers, and today's arrests are a testament to the FBI and its local law enforcement and intelligence partners."
 
This story was updated at 2:20 p.m.