Boise man pleads not guilty to federal terrorism charges [w/video]

Investigators say man has connections to Islamic terrorist group

csewell@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2013 

— Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, spoke through an interpreter during his initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Boise.

He pleaded not guilty to three terrorism-related charges, including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Kurbanov worked as a truck driver up until his Thursday arrest, Next up is a detention hearing Tuesday, where prosecutors will seek to hold him in jail until his trial.

A jury trial was set for July 2 before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge.

He is being represented by a federal public defender, Samuel Richard Rubin. No family members appeared in the courtroom, which was packed with media.

Kurbanov, 30, was arrested at an apartment complex off of Cassia Street and Curtis Road on Thursday morning after two grand juries issued federal indictments as part of an investigation into his activities in Idaho and Utah, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The Idaho grand jury's indictment charges Kurbanov with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The indictment also alleges he possessed an unregistered explosive device.

A separate federal grand jury in Utah also returned an indictment charging Kurbanov with distributing information about explosives, bombs and weapons of mass destruction.

Kurbanov was being held in the Ada County Jail and is scheduled to appear in federal court in Boise at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Wendy Olson, the U.S. attorney in Idaho, said Kurbanov is the only person charged, and any potential threat was contained by his arrest.

"He was closely monitored during the course of the investigation," she said. "The investigation has been under way for some time."

Olson declined to share any other specifics of Kurbanov's alleged activities, including whether any potential terrorist threat or targets were domestic or abroad. She said there is no connection between this case and the Boston Marathon bombings.

Kurbanov's arrest came in a flurry of sleek black law enforcement vehicles and investigators clad in protective gear Thursday that one neighbor likened to a scene from a movie. Federal officials were mum for most of the day, telling the Statesman little other than it was an ongoing investigation.

A Thursday afternoon news release from the U.S. attorney's office said Kurbanov is in the United States legally, but Olson declined to give details about his immigration status.

It was unclear when he moved to Idaho or the extent of his activities in Utah. An Idaho telephone number registered to Kurbanov has been disconnected. Another phone number appearing to lead to his apartment simply rang when called.

Kurbanov's primary language is Uzbek; he also speaks Russian, according to court documents.

The Idaho indictment alleges that between August 2012 and May 2013, Kurbanov knowingly conspired with others to provide support and resources, including computer software and money, to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a designated terrorist organization.

Although the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan started in the 1990s with the stated aim of overthrowing the Uzbek regime and establishing an Islamic government, its goals have expanded to create a broader Islamic influence in Central Asia.

The movement's fighters have a presence in Afghanistan's northern provinces and in Pakistan's Waziristan province. U.S. and Afghan officials say al-Qaeda has been building ties with the IMU.

Last year, an Uzbek named Ulugbek Kodirov was sentenced to a minimum 15 years in prison in Alabama for plotting to shoot President Barack Obama while on the campaign trial. Kodirov pleaded guilty, saying he was acting at the behest of the IMU.

Olson on Friday said the charges shouldn't reflect on Boise's larger Muslim community, and urged people not to judge other Muslims based on Kurbanov's alleged actions.

According to Idaho's court system, Kurbanov was ticketed for speeding violations twice in 2012 — once in October in Cassia County, when he paid a $90 fine, and another instance in May in Canyon County when he paid $85.

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