US citizen from Brooklyn accused of becoming ISIS sniper, weapons trainer

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, July 19, 2019

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A naturalized American citizen is accused of becoming an ISIS sniper and weapons instructor.

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, was charged by federal authorities with providing and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court.

Asainov was born in Kazakhstan was arrested and transferred to the United States from the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces.

"The defendant, a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Brooklyn, turned his back on the country that took him in and joined ISIS, serving its violent ends in Syria and attempting to recruit others to its cause," said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue for the Eastern District of New York. "Our counterterrorism prosecutors and law enforcement partners will continue working relentlessly to hold accountable those like the defendant who have supported ISIS's violent agenda."

According to the unsealed complaint, Asainov first traveled to Turkey in late 2013. From there, he entered into Syria and allegedly enlisted to join ISIS as a fighter, according to the charges.

Over time, officials say Asainov rose through the ranks to become an ISIS "emir" in charge of training other ISIS members in the use of weapons. He is also accused of trying to recruit another person to travel to Syria with him to fight for ISIS.

Based on information from a confidential informant who said he communicated with Asainov regularly between August 2014 and March 2015, Asainov said that since joining ISIS his "faith in Islam had been renewed" and would send photos of himself holding a "large-caliber assault rifle, fitted with a scope."

Asainov at one point allegedly tried to recruit the informant, telling him ISIS would give him "a job, housing, food and a $50 stipend per month," according to the filing.

In a message to an associate, Asainov allegedly bragged that ISIS was "the worst terrorist organization in the world that ever existed" and expressed his hopes to die in battle.

"This arrest serves as a warning to anyone anywhere in the world who intends to support or conduct attacks on behalf of terrorist groups against the United States - you will be brought to justice," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "I would like to thank our investigators and law enforcement partners for their outstanding work in taking Mr. Asainov off the battlefield and placing him into American custody."

Asainov was first detained overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces before being transferred to to the U.S. and into FBI custody.

He was ordered held without bail after his attorneys did not argue the feds' request that he be detained until trial.

Asainov was admonished twice by the judge for not answering audibly when asked if he speaks English and understands his rights. Eventually, he did answer procedural questions with one-word answers, but only loudly enough for the judge to hear.

No plea was entered.


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