BOISE – A 30-year-old Boise man from Uzbekistan was arrested Thursday on federal terrorism charges and indicted by a grand jury for possession of a destructive device and providing material support to terrorists.
Fazliddin Kurbanov is accused of providing support to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a designated foreign terrorist organization, including computer software, money, and his own work. He’s also charged with conducting a bomb-making demonstration in Utah in January, in which he “showed Internet videos, provided written recipes and verbal instructions, and conducted instructional shopping trips which informed as to the construction and use of improvised explosive devices.”
“Today’s arrest and these indictments underscore our commitment to aggressively and thoroughly investigate those who conspire to engage in unlawful terrorist activities,” said Wendy Olson, U.S. Attorney for Idaho. She said the joint investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies “put a stop to this criminal activity and ensured the public’s safety.”
Kurbanov, who was in the United States legally, is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Friday morning in Boise; when his Idaho case is completed, he’ll be transferred to Utah to face federal charges there.
This is not Idaho’s first terrorism case; in 2004, University of Idaho computer science student Sami al-Hussayen was charged with providing material support to terrorists for his work operating and maintaining various Web sites for an Islamic group, the Islamic Assembly of North America. But he was acquitted on all three terrorism charges filed against him. Al-Hussayen then returned to his home country of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Hussayen was the first person to be charged with providing material support to terrorists by operating Web sites; his attorneys argued that he was merely the technician maintaining the sites, and didn’t endorse or create the content.
Unlike that case, which involved only website work, Kurbanov is charged with possession of a destructive device “on or about Nov. 15, 2012 in the District of Idaho.”
The device that Kurbanov is charged with possessing is described in his Idaho indictment as “a hollow hand grenade, hobby fuse, aluminum powder, potassium nitrate and sulfur.”
The Utah indictment said the bomb-making demonstration was aimed at “training in the construction and use of such explosive devices to commit and further a federal crime of violence,” including bombing a place of public use, public transportation system or infrastructure facility, or damaging or destroying “a building or property in interstate commerce by means of explosive.”
“One of our highest priorities is disrupting potential acts of terrorism,” said David B. Barlow, U.S. Attorney for Utah. “The coordinated investigation, arrest, and indictments in this case demonstrate the commitment of all involved to do just that. The tireless work of agents, analysts, and law enforcement officers to detect and guard against acts of terrorism has helped ensure the safety of the communities they serve.”
Federal grand juries in Idaho and Utah handed down the indictments on Thursday. The Idaho charges include one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization; one of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; and one of possession of a destructive device.
The Utah indictment is for a single count of distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.
Asked whether the case involves potential bombings in the United States or in Uzbekistan, Pam Bearg, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boise, said, “At this time we aren’t able to comment on any potential attack plans by Mr. Kurbanov beyond what’s contained in the indictment. What I can say is the suspect was closely monitored by federal agents during the investigation and any potential threat posed by Mr. Kurbanov has been contained.”
Olson said there’s no connection between the case and the Boston Marathon bombings, and discounted any heightened sensitivity due to that attack. “I would say that there has been a heightened sensitivity to this kind of thing for some substantial period of time,” she said. “Terrorism has been the top priority of the FBI and the Justice Department for a substantial period of time.”
Olson noted that the investigation has been under way for some time. The Idaho indictment covers actions by Kurbanov from August of 2012 through this month.
In connection with the case, federal agents searched a Boise apartment on Thursday; KTVB-TV reported that neighbors said six unmarked black vehicles arrived at the Glenbrook apartment complex on the Boise bench around 10:30 on Thursday morning. By afternoon, both Boise Police and federal agents were on the scene.
Olson confirmed that the search was connected to Kurbanov’s case.
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