A naturalized American citizen who lived in New York City allegedly traveled to Syria and became a sniper and weapons instructor for ISIS is facing federal charges for supporting the terrorist organization.
Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan was charged in Brooklyn federal court for allegedly providing and attempting to provide material support, including training, services, and personnel, to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
Asainov, 42, who resided in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, traveled to Istanbul, Turkey in December 2013, which is a common transit point to gain entry into Syria, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said. He proceeded to enter the country, joined ISIS and became a sniper for the organization.
Donoghue said that over time, Asainov rose through the ranks to become an ISIS “emir” in charge of training other ISIS members in the use of weapons. He also allegedly attempted to recruit another to travel from the U.S. to Syria to fight for them.
In March 2015, Asainov contacted a confidential informant asking for money to purchase a scope for his rifle. He later sent the informant two pictures him holding the assault rifle, now fitted with a scope.
In a message to an associate, Asainov allegedly said that “ISIS is the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed,” and added that he wished to die on the battlefield.
“The defendant, a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Brooklyn, turned his back on the country that took him in and joined ISIS, serving its violent ends in Syria and attempting to recruit others to its cause,” Donoghue said. “Our counterterrorism prosecutors and law enforcement partners will continue working relentlessly to hold accountable those like the defendant who have supported ISIS’s violent agenda.”
Asainov was detained overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and transferred into the custody of the FBI on Wednesday, July 17. Asainov’s initial court appearance was scheduled for Friday, July 19.
“The United States is committed to holding accountable those who have left this country in order to fight for ISIS,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers said. “As alleged in the court filings, Asainov traveled overseas, joined ISIS, and became a fighter and a sniper for the terrorist organization.
“He was ultimately detained overseas, turned over to the FBI, and will now face justice in an American courtroom. We hope countries around the world, including our European allies and partners, will likewise repatriate and prosecute their own citizens for traveling to support ISIS.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill added, “this arrest serves as a warning to anyone anywhere in the world who intends to support or conduct attacks on behalf of terrorist groups against the United States – you will be brought to justice. I would like to thank our investigators and law enforcement partners for their outstanding work in taking Mr. Asainov off the battlefield and placing him into American custody.”
Asainov was ordered to be held without bail and his attorneys did not argue the request that he remain detained until his federal trial.
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