NEW YORK (AP) — A fifth man pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges in New York City that he was involved in a plot to recruit U.S. fighters to join the Islamic State group.
Akmal Zakirov, 29, entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn where he was ordered held without bail. His attorney declined comment.
In April, four other men — all from the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan — also pleaded not guilty in the same case to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
An indictment accuses the men of trying to raise money to pay travel expenses for Islamic State recruits to travel to Syria to fight for the militant group. One of the defendants, Akhror Saidakhmetov, was carrying the cash when he was intercepted at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Feb. 25 trying to board a flight to Turkey, court papers say.
Electronic surveillance and other evidence revealed that in the days leading up Saidakhmetov’s departure, “multiple individuals transferred approximately $2,400 in total into Zakirov’s personal bank account,” the papers say.
After Zakirov was detained, he “admitted, in sum and in substance, that he knew that Saidakhmetov intended to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL and that he had contacted others in an effort to raise money to fund Saidakhmetov’s travel to join ISIL,” the papers say, referring to another name for the group.
Evidence also “suggests that Saidakhmetov is not the only person the defendant helped to fight violent jihad,” the papers add.
The charges against the men come amid a spate of terrorism cases related to the Islamic State group’s efforts to attract foreign fighters or encourage sympathizers to launch an attack in America. Earlier this year, two women were arrested on charges that they sought to build a homemade bomb after embracing the radical views of groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State.
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