By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A citizen of Uzbekistan living in New York City pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to taking part in a plot to support Islamic State militants.
Dilkhayot Kasimov, 26, appeared in Brooklyn federal court two days after being indicted along with three other previously charged men, all residents of Brooklyn, New York, for his alleged role in the conspiracy.
He had been detained on immigration charges since February, when prosecutors first unveiled criminal charges against the three others, Akhror Saidakhmetov, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev and Abror Habibov.
Prosecutors have said that two of the men, Saidakhmetov of Kazakhstan and Hasanovich of Uzbekistan, planned to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the radical group.
A revised indictment filed on Monday accused Kasimov of working closely with Habibov, helping fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts to join ISIS and collecting $1,600 from multiple individuals for that purpose.
“That’s tantamount to offering money to slaughter innocent victims,” Alexander Solomon, a prosecutor, said at Wednesday’s hearing.
Prosecutors say Kasimov delivered the money to Saidakhmetov at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly before Saidakhmetov’s arrest while attempting to board a flight to Turkey in February.
Prosecutors say that Kasimov, in electronic messages, encouraged others to participate in violent jihad and made clear his role in facilitating the travel of foreign fighters to Syria.
If convicted, Kasimov faces up to 30 years in prison. His co-defendants have also pleaded not guilty.
Frederick Cohn, Kasimov’s court-appointed lawyer, declined comment after the court hearing, saying the case was in its “very early stages.”
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Ted Botha)