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Mother Of Uzbek Accused Of Threatening Obama Says He Was Used

Uzbek immigrant Ulugbek Kodirov has been charged with threatening to kill U.S. President Barack Obama.
Uzbek immigrant Ulugbek Kodirov has been charged with threatening to kill U.S. President Barack Obama.
PRAGUE/TASHKENT -- The mother of an Uzbek man accused of threatening to kill U.S. President Barack Obama says he is innocent and was "used by some radicals as a puppet," RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Zarifa Kodirova, the mother of Ulugbek Kodirov, told RFE/RL by phone from Tashkent on November 8 that when she talked to her son last month by phone he told her he never planned to assassinate Obama.

Kodirov, 22, has been indicted by a grand jury in the United States on charges of threatening to kill the president. He also faces charges of possessing an automatic weapon and a grenade, and of being in the U.S. illegally.

Kodirov traveled to the United States in June 2009 on a student visa. He was arrested in July in a motel in Alabama after trying to buy a machine gun from an undercover agent.

U.S. officials say his visa was revoked in April 2010 after he failed to enroll to study. Prosecutors also say that Kodirov made threats against Obama on four separate occasions in the week before his arrest.

Kodirov's trial was scheduled to continue on November 7 but was postponed due to the attorney's request for additional time to translate a 35-minute recorded conversation between Kodirov and other suspects.

Kodirov's mother told RFE/RL she is confident that he had been led astray by Islamic radicals.

"[Ulugbek] has never been the type of boy who could kill someone, who could take a gun or fire a gun at someone," she said. "He has indeed been a really good boy. I am sure he was just misused and misled by some people."

'Arabs Brainwashed Him'

Kodirova, 56, said she was the one who encouraged her son to go to the United States as "he always was a good student, both in secondary school and in the institute where he studied."

She added that she was very pleased to learn from her son that he had met fellow Muslims in America, because she thought that would help him to stay out of trouble.

"He was very excited to be there [in the United States]," she said. "He told me once that he joined a mosque. I told him, it is very good that you joined a mosque. If you are with a mosque, it means there are Muslims around you."

"I did not have any bad thoughts about it then," Kodirova added. "After he went to Alabama, he told me that he now has a mentor, with whom he reads the Koran. I said that is good."

"I really thought it was great. I thought: What is wrong if he prays there? But it looks as though some Arabs brainwashed him and misused him."

If convicted, Kodirov faces a maximum five-year sentence for each count of threatening the president and 10 years for each weapons charge.

Read more in Uzbek here