A Uzbek man who plotted to bankroll ISIS wannabes hoping to fight in Syria was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday to 11 years behind bars.
Dilshod Khusanov, 37, admitted to plotting to pay the travel expenses for one of the jihadist hopefuls to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham and the al-Nusra Front.
Khusanov lived near Chicago, but the would-be fighters he sponsored was from Brooklyn, and was caught trying to pass through John F. Kennedy Airport.
In court filings Khusanov’s lawyer argued that his client had no interest in taking action against America.
“On the contrary, as the referenced conversations reflect, he respected the United States and the freedom it gave him and fellow Muslims to worship,” his attorney, Richard Levitt, wrote. “His goal was to assist others to oppose the brutal and oppressive regime of our common enemy, Bashar Al-Assad.”
Levitt also brought up Khusanov’s five years spent awaiting trial in the troubled Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, pointing out that his client suffered through the jail’s days-long blackout in the winter of 2019.
As part of his plea deal, Khusanov couldn’t be sentenced to less than 11 years behind bars without prosecutors’ approval, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t buy his anti-Assad argument.
The wannabe fighter, Akhror Saidakhmetov, revealed a “pro-ISIS and anti-America ideology” months before his intended trip, prosecutors said in a letter this month.
“Saidakhmetov did not express the intent to travel to Syria for the purpose of fighting against Assad,” prosecutors write. “And there is no evidence that Khusanov made any effort to find out before he gave money to support Saidakhmetov’s travel that Saidakhmetov was going for the purpose of fighting against Assad.”
Khusanov is the sixth of seven defendants in the case to be sentenced, including Saidakhmetov, who got 15 years behind bars in 2017.
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