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Astana 'Will Help' U.S. Investigate Kazakh Suspected Of Aiding Islamic State

A court sketch of the men accused of aiding Islamic State: Akhror Saidakhmetov (third left), Abdurasul Juraboev (fourth right), and Akhror Saidakmetov (center).

A court sketch of the men accused of aiding Islamic State: Akhror Saidakhmetov (third left), Abdurasul Juraboev (fourth right), and Akhror Saidakmetov (center).

Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry has said that it will provide assistance to the United States to help investigate the case of a Kazakh national arrested on suspicion of assisting the Islamic State (IS) group.

Akhror Saidakhmetov, aged 19, was charged in a U.S. court on February 25 with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Saidakhmetov was arrested at New York's Kennedy Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul in Turkey, allegedly planning to go on from there to Syria.

In an announcement on its webpage on February 26, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said that a man named Akhror Abrorovich Saidakhmetov was listed on the country's population database.

Saidakhmetov was registered as being born on June 26, 1995 in the southern city of Turkistan. The Foreign Ministry said that Saidakhmetov is listed as being an ethnic Uzbek.

"In October 2011, at the age of 16 he left for Uzbekistan and since then has not returned to Kazakhstan," the Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry said that Kazakhstan's Consulate in New York is currently not involved with the case, and that Saidakhmetov and his family have not asked for any assistance. The suspect would be offered the "appropriate consular and legal support" if he asked for it, the ministry added.

"In principle, Kazakhstan supports the efforts of the international community, and the United States in particular, in the fight against violent extremism and the so-called 'Islamic State.' We are ready to provide comprehensive assistance to the U.S. authorities in the investigation of the case," the ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. authorities said that Saidakhmetov had threatened to shoot U.S. police officers and FBI agents if they attempted to stop him from joining the Islamic State group. The complaint filed against the Kazakh national alleges that his mother had taken away his passport in an attempt to prevent him from traveling.

Media in Kazakhstan reported on February 26 that Saidakhmetov "might be" a citizen of Kazakhstan, though reports noted that he had left the country in 2011.

The Kazakh national was charged alongside two other men: 24-year-old Abdurasul Juraboev and Abror Habibov, aged 30.

Juraboev was arrested in Brooklyn and allegedly had a ticket to travel to Istanbul next month. Habibov, who was detained without bail in Florida, is suspected of helping to fund Saidakhmetov's attempts to join Islamic State in Syria.

Juraboev had posted on a pro-Islamic State Uzbek website in August, when he suggested shooting U.S. President Obama, according to the Associated Press news agency.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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