A 22-year-old Uzbek national pleaded guilty in federal court on Feb. 10 to trying to kill the president and to supporting an Uzbek terror group.
Ulugbek Kodirov, who has been in the U.S. since overstaying a student visa in 2009, pleaded guilty to charges of threatening to kill President Obama, possession of an illegal weapon and supporting the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is a U.S.-designated terror group.
Kodirov’s plea comes as several other Uzbeks have either been designated as global terrorists or have been arrested on terror charges in the U.S. In late January, federal agents arrested Jamshid Muhtorov, 35, at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on charges of providing and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), which is a designated foreign terrorist organization. Three days later, the U.S. State Department designated brothers Yassin and Monir Chouka and Mevlut Kar as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, saying the Chouka brothers were fighters, recruiters, facilitators and propagandists for the IMU, while Kar is a facilitator and recruiter for the IJU.
Kodirov had been indicted by a federal grand jury on the presidential threat and terror charges in July 2011 after he tried to obtain an automatic weapon to kill the president in a federal undercover operation that had been spurred by confidential informants.
Federal prosecutors praised the Birmingham, AL Muslim community for helping law enforcement identify and arrest Kodirov. Kodirov was “self radicalized” and had viewed Islamist Web sites and had sought out “like-minded” individuals, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said after the plea.
In his plea, Kodirov admitted he had been in communication with an individual whom he believed to be a member of the IMU and interpreted the conversations to mean that he should kill President Obama. Court documents also said Kodirov showed jihadist Web sites and videos on his computer to another individual and told that person that he wanted to assist others in jihad overseas.
Kodirov admitted to having lengthy conversations last July with another unidentified individual about his desire to kill President Obama and ways to carry out an assassination. That individual, said court documents, traveled to Birmingham, AL to meet Kodirov and introduced him to 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, AL, said the documents. During the meeting, the undercover agent offered 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.” Kodirov chose the machine gun and the hand grenades and left the meeting with the weapons. Agents arrested Kodirov before he left the motel.
Kodirov had entered the U.S. on a student visa in June 2009, but it was revoked on April 1, 2010, when he failed to enroll in school. After that, he was living unlawfully in the country and was holed up in an extended-stay motel in Pelham, AL, at the time of his arrest.
He 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.
“Today, Ulugbek Kodirov became the first person to be convicted of providing material support to terrorist activity in this district,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “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.