A fifth man has been arrested in connection with a federal investigation into the so-called Brooklyn ISIS conspiracy, federal authorities say.
Akmal Zakirov is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS -- also known as the Islamic State and ISIL -- and is expected to appear in federal court in Brooklyn later Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Zakirov's arrest comes months after 24-year-old Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev, 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov were accused of conspiring to join ISIS overseas and planning to return to New York to shoot cops and FBI agents if their gambit failed. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Two other men, Abror Habibov and Dilkhayot Kasimov, have been accused of helping the pair raise money for the trip. Authorities allege Zakirov also helped in the fundraising effort, helping Saidakhmetov purchase a plane ticket to the Middle East.
“Zakirov is the fifth to be charged as part of the network of individuals alleged to have conspired and attempted to provide material support to ISIL,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie. “Our efforts to investigate terrorist support groups are ongoing -- we are committed to disrupting and deterring those who seek to support ISIL, whether by lending themselves or their funds to ISIL’s cause.”
If convicted, Zakirov faces up to 30 years in prison.
Saidakhmetov allegedly posted on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that he would buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to join ISIS was thwarted, according to the complaint unsealed Wednesday. In August, 24-year-old Juraboev posted on the board that he would kill President Obama if ISIS asked him to and asked for help getting weapons, according to the complaint.
He also said he would plant a bomb on Coney Island if the terror group asked, the complaint said.
Law enforcement officials say any potential homegrown threat was aspirational, not operational, but authorities moved in because they believed the suspects' plans to travel abroad were imminent and their alleged intent to join ISIS real. Agents had been tracking the men for about eight months.
Saidakhmetov was arrested in March at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev had already bought a plane ticket to Istanbul from New York and was scheduled to leave March 29.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing several American hostages, including journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig. Another captive American, 26-year-old aid worker Kayla Mueller, was confirmed dead on Feb. 10, four days after ISIS claimed she had been killed in an airstrike in Syria.