By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City resident who prosecutors said tried two years ago to board a flight to Turkey on his way to Syria in order to join Islamic State pleaded guilty on Thursday to having conspired to provide material support to the militant group.
Akhror Saidakhmetov, a 21-year-old citizen of Kazakhstan, entered his plea in federal court in Brooklyn to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, prosecutors said.
He faces up to 15 years in prison and removal to Kazakhstan, prosecutors said. A lawyer for Saidakhmetov did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He is one of six individuals charged in the case and one of more than 100 people who have faced U.S. federal charges in connection with Islamic State since 2014.
The investigation began when Abdurasul Juraboev, an Uzbek national living in Brooklyn, came to law enforcement's attention after making a post on an Uzbek-language website that supported Islamic State, prosecutors said.
The probe revealed that Juraboev and Saidakhmetov, a friend and coworker who shared similar views, planned to travel to Turkey and then to Syria to join Islamic State, prosecutors said.
Speaking to a paid law enforcement informant, Saidakhmetov said his mother had feared he would do so and had taken his passport, which he planned to get back by saying he was going to Uzbekistan to visit relatives, according to court papers.
According to charging documents, Saidakhmetov had also expressed interest in joining the U.S. military to either pass information to Islamic State to help in their attacks or to open fire on soldiers to kill as many as possible.
Saidakhmetov's efforts to join Islamic State received funding help from four co-defendants, prosecutors said.
He was arrested in February 2015 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to fly to Istanbul. Juraboev was scheduled to leave the United States in March 2015, prosecutors said.
Juraboev pleaded guilty in August 2015 to conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State. Charges against the four other men - Azizjon Rakhmatov, Abror Habibov, Dilkhayot Kasimov and Akmal Zakirov - remain pending.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)