As the terrorism trial of Fazliddin Kurbanov opened in Boise yesterday, prosecutors said the Uzbeki refugee was walking on a “pathway to terror,” communicating regularly with an overseas terrorist organization, buying bags of fertilizer and other bomb-making materials, and talking of attacking a military base or mass transit in a suicide bombing. His defense attorney, Charles Peterson, said prosecutors misinterpreted Kurbanov’s curiosity about the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and FBI informants encouraged him to spend more time on the organization’s website, through which he began talking with the group.
"He starts telling great stories, like we have a group together and we're all ready to go out and blow up the military. But look — Kurbanov is all hat, no cattle. That's all that's going on here — it's just big talk," Peterson said.
Prosecutors painted a starkly different picture, one of a man who was determined to carry out an attack on U.S. soil, who watched anti-U.S. propaganda videos, researched his options and sought help from radicals overseas on how to build a bomb, the AP reports. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Lucoff read from emails and online chats that the FBI said came from Kurbanov. "'We are the closest ones to infidels. We have almost everything,'" Lucoff read from one of the communications. "'What would you say if, with the help of God, we implement a martyrdom act? ... There are military installations right here, targets, and vehicles are available as well.'"
The trial, which is continuing today, is expected to last six weeks. You can read AP reporter Rebecca Boone’s full report here. Also, Idaho Statesman reporter John Sowell has a full report here; he writes that while still in Uzbekistan, Kurbanov’s parents and sister left Islam and converted to Christianity, then were persecuted. They fled, and Kurbanov, still a Muslim, went with them and brought his wife; they eventually settled in Boise.
Prosecutors said Kurbanov turned against his new home, and began planning terrorist attacks. In one conversation with his IMU contact, the contact asked, “It’s going to be like Oklahoma City, right?” and Kurbanov answered, “Yeah, yeah, maybe more,” they said. Sowell reports that Kurbanov came to the attention of the FBI because of his postings on Facebook and YouTube, where he uploaded more than 100 terror videos from the IMU website to his YouTube account, and posted a profile of himself on Facebook with the keywords “terror” and “terrorism.”
KTVB-TV reporter Katie Terhune is live-tweeting the trial; you can follow her on Twitter at @KTVBTerhune, and her tweets are being posted on a live blog here.