Colorado man arrested on terrorism charges
DENVER — The FBI arrested a refugee from Uzbekistan at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on charges that he planned to travel overseas to fight for a terrorist group and give up his life if necessary, an official said Monday.
However, there was no evidence that suspect Jamshid Muhtorov was plotting attacks inside the United States, authorities said.
Muhtorov, 35, of Aurora, Colo., was arrested Saturday by members of the FBI’s Denver and Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forces.
Muhtorov, who goes by several other names, was indicted for providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the FBI said. The group named is the Islamic Jihad Union.
Muhtorov was arrested without incident before he could board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.
Muhtorov made a brief court appearance Monday morning in Chicago and waived his rights to further hearings in the northern Illinois district. Judge Morton Denlow then ordered Muhtorov to be transferred to Denver.
No one answered the door Monday at an apartment where the FBI said Muhtorov lived.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Muhtorov’s apartment in Aurora for a laptop computer, a Blackberry cell phone, and permission to search two email accounts they said were used by Muhtorov, according to the indictment.
The FBI said Muhtorov communicated with a contact with the terror organization by email using code words, asking to be invited to the “wedding.” He also told the contact that he was “ready for any task, even with the risk of dying.” the FBI said.
If convicted, Muhtorov could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
It wasn’t the first terrorism case with ties to the Denver suburb of Aurora.
Najibullah Zazi, a Denver airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty to planning to bomb the New York City subway, also was from Aurora.
Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, bought beauty supplies in Aurora to make peroxide-based bombs. He tried to mix explosives in a hotel room in the city then drove to New York to carry out an attack just before the 2009 anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
After becoming suspicious he was being watched by law enforcement, he abandoned the plan and returned to Colorado.
Prosecutors allege Zazi and two associates went to Afghanistan in 2008 to join the Taliban and fight U.S. soldiers. They instead were recruited by al-Qaida operatives, who gave them weapons training in their Pakistan camp and asked them to become suicide bombers, authorities say.
Zazi’s father, Mohammed Zazi, also of Aurora, was convicted in July of destroying evidence and lying to investigators to cover up his son’s plot.