BOISE -- A Boise man accused of terrorism-related crimes was convicted on three of five counts by a jury Wednesday after a trial that stretched more than four weeks.
Fazliddin Kurbanov, 33, gazed down at the table but showed little emotion as the verdict was read. The jury returned guilty verdicts on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization, one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device.
Kurbanov was acquitted on two additional charges, conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said after the proceeding that she hoped the guilty verdict would stand as a warning to others who plot against America.
"Today's verdict sends the clear message that when individuals intend to pursue acts of terrorism against people in the United States, whether in Boise Idaho or anywhere else in the community, we will vigorously pursue, investigate, and prosecute those cases," she said.
Kurbanov stockpiled explosive materials in his Curtis Road apartment and communicated with a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan online for months before his arrest. Prosecutors alleged that Kurbanov had agreed to send aid - money, computer software, and recruits - to the Taliban-linked terrorist group.
In his messages to the IMU, Kurbanov wrote that he hoped to launch an attack against the United States and asked for help learning how to construct an explosive.
"There are a lot of targets, huge buildings, offices of infidels, military headquarters etc," Kurbanov wrote. "Could you teach us how to perform the action with a vehicle? Please. The rest we have."
Kurbanov turned to the Internet to learn, watching and downloading jihadi videos from the IMU's official propaganda website as well as YouTube instructionals on how to make black powder, bombs and remote detonators.
Kurbanov wrote to one IMU official that he was particularly inspired by videos of IMU suicide bombers Abdul Malik and Ali the Sniper. He also told a confidential FBI informant that he was considering targets close to home.
According to prosecutors, Kurbanov drove to the Mountain Home Air Force Base as well as a Navy base in Texas to check them out as possible attack sites. He told the FBI source in a recorded conversation that he also considered planting a bomb in a Boise park during the Fourth of July celebration, because of the high number of military members and their families that would be in attendance.
But defense attorneys argued that the plot Kurbanov described to the IMU was a fiction.
He wrote that he had multiple co-conspirators in the U.S., but the FBI found none. He wrote he was close to his goal of creating an explosive, but had not assembled anything, attorney Charles Peterson said. He wrote about emigrating in the cause of faith, but testified he had never seriously considered leaving the country that had granted him refuge after persecution drove him and his family from Uzbekistan.
In both the opening and closing arguments, Peterson argued the case was about fear and urged jurors to look past Kurbanov's words to consider what he had actually done.
The defense argued that the plot was nothing more than big talk, and that the suspect would never have actually carried out an attack. Kurbanov testified on the stand that he was only telling the IMU contact what he wanted to hear in order to keep up the communication.
Peterson said after the verdict that he was disappointed in the outcome, but planned to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court.
"[Kurbanov] was just very thankful for the way the system treated him and gave him an opportunity to tell his story, and he denies that he ever intended to do anything against the American people or against the United States," Peterson said.
Kurbanov gave varying reasons for reaching out to the IMU, telling FBI agents after his arrest alternately that he had been looking for a childhood friend, wanted to figure out the IMU's next move, or wanted to gather information on the group to hand over to authorities.
Kurbanov testified that he began buying ingredients - including fertilizer, Tannerite, ammonium nitrate, acetone and aluminum powder - after a coworker got him interested in homemade fireworks. Prosecutor Aaron Lucoff rejected that explanation, arguing that it was no coincidence Kurbanov began buying the items just before writing to the IMU that he was gathering the materials needed for an attack.
Likewise, Lucoff said, the timeline of Kurbanov's actions point to his guilt. The defendant asked his brother to send him a Kaspersky antivirus program eight days after telling an administrator for the IMU's official website he would get him the the software. Kurbanov also opened a business - Fazliddin Kurbanov Inc. - through his employer within a month of telling the same IMU contact he was preparing to open a company to divert money to the terrorist group.
The software transfer was ultimately unsuccessful and Kurbanov was not sent a letter informing him the business was up and running until after his arrest in May 2013. But prosecutors say the attempts prove Kurbanov was determined to send aid to the group.
Sentencing is set for Nov. 10. Kurbanov will face a maximum of 15 years in prison for each of the attempt and conspiracy charges, and up to ten years in prison for possession of a destructive device.
Kurbanov is likely to face additional terrorism-related charges in Utah, where a grand jury indictment is pending.