Man who allegedly taught bomb making in Utah arrested in terrorism case

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 6:12 a.m. MDT

Federal authorities say they diffused a potential terrorist threat with the arrest of an Uzbekistan national who they say belongs to an Islamic terrorist group.

Steven Senne, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities say they diffused a potential terrorist threat with the arrest of an Uzbekistan national who they say belongs to an Islamic terrorist group.

Fazliddin Kurbanov, 30, now faces federal charges in Utah and Idaho for allegedly training others how to make bombs and preparing to carry out a violent offense with a weapon of mass destruction.

The FBI arrested Kurbanov in a Boise apartment complex Thursday morning as part of federal terrorism investigation in the two states. Agents also searched a residence in Boise, but FBI spokeswoman Debbie Bertram would not say if it belonged to Kurbanov.

Kurbanov, who was in the U.S. legally at the time of his arrest, is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday in Idaho.

Federal agents closely monitored Kurbanov’s activities for some time and stopped any potential threat, said U.S. Attorney for Utah David Barlow.

Authorities would not say whether a terrorist attack was imminent. They also declined to comment on what initiated the investigation or how long they were conducting it.

"The bottom line is he's been arrested, he's in custody and that risk has been contained," Barlow said.

A one-count indictment filed in Salt Lake City alleges that from about Jan. 14 to Jan. 24, Kurbanov taught and demonstrated how to make explosive devices and distributed information relating to the manufacture and use of a weapon of mass destruction.

In Utah, Kurbanov showed Internet videos, led shopping trips, provided written recipes and gave instructions on where to obtain components to build and use improvised explosive devices, according to the indictment.

Bertram would not comment on where Kurbanov lived or stayed in Utah or how much time he spent in the state.

The three-count Idaho indictment alleges that between August 2012 and May 2013, Kurbanov provided resources to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the U.S. government designates as a foreign terrorist organization. Those resources include Kurbanov himself, computer software and money, according to the indictment.

On Nov. 15, 2012, Kurbanov possessed parts that he could readily assemble into a bomb, including a hollow hand grenade, hobby fuse, aluminum powder, potassium nitrate and sulfur, according to the indictment.

Authorities would not comment on what his intentions were at that time.

Last month, a combined Afghan and coalition security force arrested an IMU leader in the Burkah district of Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, according to the Defense Department.

The leader allegedly led a cell of insurgent fighters in multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said. He also is accused of training insurgent fighters and serves a vital role in intelligence and improvised explosive device operations, they said.

In January, a court in France convicted nine people for links to the militant group that the U.N. Security Council has described as an al-Qaida affiliate.

They were convicted in connection with collecting funds for the IMU. Defense lawyers said the money was for humanitarian uses such as paying for sheep for slaughter under Muslim ritual, according to the Associated Press.

Barlow said the arrest serves as a reminder that crime related to alleged terrorist activity can happen anywhere.

“One of our highest priorities is disrupting potential acts of terrorism. The coordinated investigation, arrest and indictments in this case demonstrate the commitment of all involved to do just that," he said.

The FBI’s Salt Lake City Division, which covers Idaho and Utah, and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in the two states, which includes a number of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, participated in the investigation.

"The indictments and arrest are the result of months of exhaustive investigation on the part of agents, analysts and officers who worked indefatigably to achieve that end,” Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the FBI in Salt Lake City.

Kurbanov will be tried in federal court first in Idaho and then in Utah, Barlow said.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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