U.S. charges three with conspiring to support Islamic State

U.S. charges three with conspiring to support Islamic State

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three men were charged on Wednesday with conspiring to support Islamic State, including two who planned to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the radical group, U.S. authorities said.

One of the men, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, of Kazakhstan was arrested early on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where authorities said he was attempting to board a flight to Turkey on his way to Syria.

Another defendant, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, of Uzbekistan, had previously purchased a ticket for a March flight to Istanbul, said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn.

Abror Habibov, 30, of Uzbekistan, was accused of helping to fund Saidakhmetov's efforts, prosecutors said.

All three men live in Brooklyn.

Saidakhmetov and Juraboev were expected to appear in Brooklyn federal court later on Wednesday, while Habibov was set to appear in federal court in Jacksonville, Florida.

Defense attorneys for the three men could not immediately be identified.

Juraboev drew the attention of federal agents when he posted messages on an Uzbek-language website stating his desire to join Islamic State and his willingness to kill U.S. President Barack Obama if asked. A U.S.-led coalition has been fighting the Islamic State, which controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Agents interviewed Juraboev at his home in August 2014, where he repeated his support for Islamic State, said he wanted to travel to Syria to wage war on its behalf and confirmed he would be willing to harm Obama, according to the criminal complaint.

He also told the agents about a friend, Saidakhmetov, who shared similar views, the complaint said.

Investigators recorded conversations between the two men using a confidential informant who approached Juraboev at a mosque, posing as a sympathizer.

The two men discussed traveling to Syria and how to carry out attacks in the United States, according to the complaint.

"I will just go a buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police," Saidakhmetov said during one recorded conversation, the complaint said.

Saidakhmetov was an employee of Habibov, who operates kiosks that sell kitchenware and repair mobile phones in several malls in Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

Habibov paid for Saidakhmetov's plane ticket and promised him additional funds, according to the complaint.

A number of others have been charged recently with conspiring to support Islamic State. A law enforcement official said there are currently Islamic State-related investigations in all 50 U.S. states.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Bill Trott and G Crosse)