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Federal Prosecutors Arrest Uzbekistan National On Terrorism Charges

Authorities in Idaho have arrested an Uzbekistan national on federal terrorism charges, the Justice Department announced Thursday evening.

Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, was arrested in Boise on Wednesday, prosecutors say. He is being charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

The AP reports:

"The indictment also alleges he possessed an unregistered explosive device.

A separate federal grand jury in Utah also returned an indictment charging Kurbanov with distributing information about explosives, bombs and weapons of mass destruction.

He is scheduled to make an appearance in federal court in Boise on Friday."

The unsealed indictment in Idaho accuses Kurbanov of conspiring to provide "computer software and money to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a designated foreign terrorist organization" and of possessing "a hollow grenade, hobby fuse, aluminum powder, potassium nitrate and sulfur."

The Utah indictment says he "did knowingly teach and demonstrate the making and use of an explosive, destructive device and weapon of mass destruction" and of distributing bomb making information.

Kurbanov, it said "showed internet videos, provided written recipes and verbal instructions, and conducted instructional shopping trips which informed as to the construction and use of improvised explosive devices (IED)".

However, as NPR's Dina Temple-Raston notes the indictments don't specify "if Kurbanov had intended to attack here in the United States" and that it's unclear whether the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan took him up on his offer of help.

They also don't say how the devices were to be used, she says.

Update at 7:00 p.m. ET: Kurbanov To Appear On Friday

In a Department of Justice statement, officials said Kurbanov's activities were closely monitored by federal agents during the investigation and that any potential threat he posed had been contained. It said he would make his initial appearance in federal court in Boise on Friday.

The statement says:

"Today's arrest and these indictments underscore our commitment to aggressively and thoroughly investigate those who conspire to engage in unlawful terrorist activities," said U.S. Attorney [Wendy J.] Olson. "The thorough and exhaustive work of our [ Joint Terrorism Task Forces], in partnership with our investigating and prosecuting partners in Utah, Colorado and at the National Security Division, put a stop to this criminal activity and ensured the public's safety. I commend the men and women at every level of law enforcement, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Ada County and Canyon County Sheriff's Offices and the Boise City Police Department, who assisted in this effort."

In November of last year, Foreign Policy magazine described the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) as "a militant group based in Pakistan's tribal agencies" that "despite the loss of several senior leaders and a key media operative since 2011, [remains] one of the most militarily capable and media savvy militant outfits operating in the region."

"It maintains working relationships with a number of other Sunni militant groups active in the region including al-Qaida Central, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and the Afghan Taliban," the magazine says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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