Two men were handed down lengthy sentences for terror offences this week. Lionel Williams, 27, from Sussex, Virginia and Akhror Saidakhmetov, of Brooklyn, were sentenced to 20 years and 15 years respectively.
Williams was convicted for plotting to carry out a shooting attack. Williams told an undercover FBI agent he wanted to strike so called “hard targets,” meaning police officers or the military.
An affidavit filed in court by a neighbor stated Williams frequently posted pro-ISIS content on social media and in October/November 2016 sent money to someone he believed was collecting funds for ISIS to buy weapons and ammunition.
“Lionel Williams planned to conduct a lone-wolf style terror attack,” Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said. “He adhered to a radicalized version of Islam, publically declared his allegiance to ISIS on social media, and ordered an AK-47 assault rifle the day after the San Bernardino terrorist attack. What started with radicalized internet postings escalated to attempts to help ISIS buy weapons and ammunition, and ended with a plan to kill law enforcement officers here in Virginia. I want to thank the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office and the Suffolk Police Department for their extraordinary work on this case.”
Williams, who converted to Islam five years ago and also goes by the name Harun Ash-Shababi, was arrested in December 2016.
Saidakhmetov, originally from Kazakhstan, was convicted for attempting to join the Islamic State. The judge ordered he be deported from the United States to Kazakhstan after he serves his 15-year sentence.
He was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport attempting to board a plane to Turkey on February 25, 2015.
He was arrested alongside two others. His roommate, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, was arrested in Brooklyn also with a ticket to Turkey. Abror Habibov, a 30-year-old Uzbek citizen, was arrested in Florida and accused of financing Saidakhmetov’s effort to join Islamic State.
In 2014 Juraboev, posted the following pro-ISIS message online:
“Greetings! We too wanted to pledge our allegiance and commit ourselves while not present there. I am in USA now but we don’t have any arms. But is it possible to commit ourselves as dedicated martyrs anyway while here? What I’m saying is, to shoot Obama and then get shot ourselves, will it do? That will strike fear in the hearts of the infidels.”
He then admitted to law enforcement that he made the post and he wanted to travel to Syria and told them about Saidakhmetov.
Habibov was brought in later to fund travel expenses. He traveled with Saidakhmetov to Coney Island to purchase his ticket to Turkey.
All three men pleaded guilty.
Three others, associates of Habibov, were also arrested and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization. If convicted, they face prison sentences of 30-50 years each.