A 46-year-old former New York stockbroker who left his wife and daughter to “wage violent jihad” for the Islamic State group in Syria was convicted this week on charges he supported, trained, and recruited soldiers for the terrorist organization, authorities said.
Ruslan Asainov was convicted Tuesday on charges that he trained, provided personnel, advice, and assistance to the terrorist group, and obstructed justice.
A jury also found that Asainov’s support to the organization resulted in the death of one or more persons, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
“Mr. Asainov, a U.S. citizen, traveled abroad to kill and train others to kill on behalf of ISIS. Now, he is being held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen. “Part of the National Security Division’s core mission is to protect Americans from terrorist organizations who would do them harm, and we will bring to justice all those who would try.”
Asainov was so committed to the terrorist organization’s evil that he abandoned his young family in Brooklyn and traveled to Syria, where he became a lethal sniper, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.
He trained others to kill their enemies and, even after he was arrested, pledged allegiance to “ISIS’ murderous path,” Peace said. “There is no place in a civilized world for the defendant’s bloody campaign of death and destruction.”
Asainov became increasingly interested in Islamic extremism after he converted to Islam in 2009, authorities said.
By the fall of 2013, officials said he had been reading radical Islamic content online, dropped out of community college, and prepared “to wage violent jihad” in Syria.
He left his wife and daughter on Christmas Eve 2013, and got on a one-way flight from New York to Istanbul, then to Syria, authorities said.
Asainov spent five years fighting in battles against Islamic State group enemies. He fought in Kobani, Tabqa, Raqqa, Dayr Az Zawr, and in the Islamic State group’s last stand in Syria at Baghouz in March 2019, officials said.
In mid-2014, he volunteered to train as a sniper in Tabqa. He is estimated to have taught nearly 100 students as a sniper trainer or “emir,” authorities said.
“A former U.S. Navy SEAL scout sniper testified that the defendant’s self-described sniper training course was consistent with what the former SEAL would expect to be taught in a sniper training program,” the U.S. DOJ said.
In a January 2015 voicemail to his estranged wife, he said he was fighting for “the most atrocious terrorist organization in the world that ever existed.”
He also sent her a photograph showing three dead fighters, officials said she testified in court. One wore a patch that read “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” i.e., ISIS, in Arabic script.
Asainov, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan, was captured in Syria after ISIS’s last stand at Baghouz, near the Syria-Iraq border.
“Asainov admitted to agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that he had fought in numerous battles on behalf of ISIS as a warrior and sniper, serving in several different katibas or ISIS fighting brigades,” officials said.
While in federal prison, he told his mother by phone that he was “carrying out Allah’s orders when he waged jihad and killed for ISIS, that he intended to return to waging jihad if released, and that he would fight until he meets Allah.”
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