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Beyond the Truck Attacker, the Long Reach of ISIS in the New York Area

Twenty-five people living in New York and New Jersey have been charged with ISIS-related crimes during the past four years

Terror NYC Oct 31 2017

On the same day authorities said an apparent ISIS supporter living in New Jersey rammed a rental truck into people in lower Manhattan, federal prosecutors extradited a former New Yorker back to Brooklyn to face allegations that he acted as a Twitter propagandist and online recruiter for the terrorist group.

Mirsad Kandic, a Kosovan who had lived in both Brooklyn and the Bronx, allegedly drew as many as 20,000 militants to the front lines of ISIS' war in Syria and Iraq. He was charged on six counts in federal court on Wednesday. That brings the total number of those who lived in New York and New Jersey charged with ISIS-related crimes over the last four years to 25 — about a third of all of those nationwide whom the federal government has accused of affiliations with the terrorist organization.

Most of the 23 men and two women were charged with crimes related to expressing support online for ISIS, sending money to ISIS causes and conspiring to travel to the Middle East to fight with the militants.

The apparent sympathies of alleged Manhattan attacker Sayfullo Saipov — who left a note in his rental truck saying that ISIS will "endure forever," according to police — are a reminder of the long reach of ISIS in the New York area. 

Saipov is from Uzbekistan, as are three other New Yorkers recently charged in an ISIS-related scheme. Abdurasul Juraboev, who cut lettuce for gyros at a restaurant in Brooklyn, was the lead defendant in a case that ended just last week. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Juraboev pleaded guilty to charges that he made online postings threatening to kill President Obama and bomb Coney Island on behalf of ISIS. He also bought a plane ticket to travel to Syria.

That case was helped along by a paid confidential informant working for the federal government, as terrorism cases often are. The informant approached Juraboev at a mosque posing as an ISIS sympathizer and then gathered evidence that was used against him.

One of Juraboev’s co-defendants was planning to travel with him, and the other co-defendants were allegedly funding the trip.

Law enforcement officials have not said whether Tuesday's attacker was affiliated with these men from Uzbekistan.

Correction: Our audio interview on this subject incorrectly asserts that 26 people have been charged in Brooklyn for having connections to ISIS. The number is actually 25.

Matt Katz is a reporter for New Jersey Public Radio/WNYC covering state politics. NJ Spotlight, in partnership with NJPR, is hosting his blog and running in-depth stories.

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