Saturday, February 11, 2012

Terrorism: Uzbek National Pleads Guilty to Charges of Threatening to Kill Obama, Providing Material Support to Terrorists

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM—An Uzbek national who has lived in the United States since 2009 pleaded guilty today in federal court to charges of providing material support to terrorist activity, threatening to kill President Barack Obama and illegally possessing a weapon.

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance; Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco; FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Glenn N. Anderson; Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Roy Sexton; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. announced the plea.

ULUGBEK KODIROV, 22, of Uzbekistan, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon to one count of providing material support to terrorist activity, one count of threatening to kill the president and one count of possession of a firearm by an illegal alien. The charges of threatening to kill President Obama and illegally possessing a firearm were among charges brought in an indictment against Kodirov by a federal grand jury in July 2011.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal information Thursday in U.S. District Court charging Kodirov with material support of terrorism.

U.S. Attorney Vance praised the investigative work and prompt action of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Northern District of Alabama. “Today, Ulugbek Kodirov became the first person to be convicted of providing material support to terrorist activity in this district,” she said. “Kodirov was apprehended during an undercover operation in which he was attempting to obtain weapons and explosives that he intended to use to kill the president of the United States. Effective action by law enforcement protected our community and potentially our country,” she said.

“I also want to express my appreciation to the Muslim community of Birmingham, which was instrumental in helping law enforcement shut down this threat,” Vance said.

“Today’s case underscores the continuing threat we face from violent extremists,” Assistant Attorney General Monaco said. “Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, Kodirov’s plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed.”

FBI SAC Maley said, “I want to thank the members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), who include the Jefferson and Shelby County Sheriff’s Offices, Birmingham, Hoover and UAB Police Departments, the Transportation Security Agency, Secret Service, ATF, and DHS. I also thank the Pelham and Leeds Police Departments for their invaluable assistance in this case. The JTTF has been diligently investigating and building partnerships to protect Alabama from terrorists since 9/11, and its efforts put it in the unique position to interdict a violent act of terrorism. This case serves as a reminder of the dangers of the Internet on radicalizing our youth right in our own back yards, and all citizens and organizations need to remain vigilant on the ever-increasing threat from home-grown violent extremists.”

ATF SAC Anderson said, “This case involved a variety of experience and expertise with ATF’s local, state and federal law enforcement partners, including the Secret Service, ICE, FBI JTTF, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Leeds Police Department and Pelham Police Department. The combined effort enabled a quick response and a very fluid investigation focused on keeping everyone safe, from Leeds, Alabama, potentially to the White House.”

“The Secret Service will actively investigate any perceived threat against anyone we are charged to protect,” SAC Sexton said. “This case is a great indicator of what can be accomplished through the outstanding cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement in the Northern District of Alabama.”

“This case is a perfect example of the outstanding cooperation between all law enforcement agencies involved in this arrest,” ICE-HSI SAC Parmer said. “Because of great coordination and cooperation, we were able to jointly arrest this dangerous illegal alien. We are dedicated to apprehending those individuals who are the most dangerous in our communities and getting them off the streets.”

Kodirov entered a plea agreement with the government, which was filed with the court today. In the plea agreement, Kodirov acknowledges that he had been in communication with an individual whom he believed to be a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and that Kodirov interpreted these conversations to mean that he should kill President Obama. Kodirov then took steps to obtain weapons to carry out his plans to kill the president. The IMU is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department. Kodirov also showed jihadist websites and videos on his computer to another individual and told that person that he wanted to assist others in jihad overseas, according to the plea agreement.

Kodirov also acknowledges in the plea agreement that he had lengthy conversations in July 2011 with a different individual about Kodirov’s desire to kill President Obama and possible ways to carry out the assassination. That individual traveled to Birmingham to meet Kodirov and introduced him to another individual, an undercover agent, from whom Kodirov intended to obtain weapons he would use to kill the president.

The three men met on July 13, 2011, at a motel in Leeds, Ala. In that meeting, the agent presented a fully automatic Sendra Corporation Model M15-A1 machine gun, a sniper rifle with a telescopic sight and four disassembled hand grenades and asked Kodirov if he would like to use any of them to “carry out his plan to kill the President,” according to the plea agreement. Kodirov chose the M15-A1 machine gun and the hand grenades and left the meeting with the weapons. Agents arrested Kodirov before he left the motel.

Kodirov entered the United States on a student visa in June 2009. His visa was revoked on April 1, 2010, for failing to enroll in school. Thereafter, he was unlawfully present within the United States. He was living in an extended-stay motel in Pelham, Ala., at the time of his arrest.

Kodirov faces maximum prison sentences of 15 years on the terrorism charge, five years on the charge of threatening the president and 10 years on the charge of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. Each charge also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

The FBI, ATF, HSI, and Secret Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael W. Whisonant and Ryan K. Buchanan are prosecuting the case with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.