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    Idaho man from Uzbekistan faces terrorism charges

    Prosecutors say Fazliddin Kurbanov was teaching people to build bombs.
    Idaho State Police via AP
    Prosecutors say Fazliddin Kurbanov was teaching people to build bombs.

    BOISE, Idaho — He was a Russian-speaking truck driver who came to Idaho in 2009 to join hundreds of other Uzbekistan refugees for whom the state has become a sanctuary from violence in their home country.

    But federal officials said in an indictment that Fazliddin Kurbanov also was teaching people to build bombs that would target public transportation.

    It’s unclear whether those alleged targets were domestic or abroad — or how far Kurbanov would have gone. Prosecutors said Friday only that they believe he is no longer a threat.


    Kurbanov, 30, was arrested Thursday during a raid of his small apartment south of Boise’s downtown.

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    Prosecutors charged him with felonies in Idaho and Utah after an extensive investigation into his activities late last year and this year. They allege those activities included assisting a militant group in his home, Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country with a southern border with Afghanistan.

    ‘‘Given his arrest, we believe any potential threat he posed has been contained,’’ US Attorney Wendy Olson said. She noted the investigation is ongoing but declined to say whether federal agents are pursuing additional arrests.

    Kurbanov said little Friday during his first court appearance, where he pleaded not guilty with help from an interpreter and a federally appointed defense attorney.

    Kurbanov will be held in the Ada County Jail. His trial on the three counts filed in Idaho is scheduled for July 2.


    His lawyer, Richard Rubin, declined to comment.

    Kurbanov is among about 650 Uzbeks living in Idaho. He was admitted to the United States as a refugee in August 2009, the same month he moved to Boise, said Jan Reeves, director of the Idaho Office for Refugees, citing immigration records. Kurbanov was here legally, federal officials said.

    Uzbeks began coming to Idaho’s two refugee settlement centers, in Boise and Twin Falls, in 2003, Reeves said. The centers connect refugees with services such as language classes and help finding work.

    The flow of Uzbeks to the state escalated around 2005, when a violent clash between protesters and the government left hundreds dead.

    Kurbanov told authorities he had a job driving trucks and listed his only assets as used cars and a small amount of cash in checking and savings accounts.


    On Friday, the apartment where he is believed to have lived had a sign on the door saying ‘‘Please respect our privacy.’’ Nobody responded to a knock. Many immigrants from numerous countries live in the apartment complex, a series of two-level buildings across from a public high school.

    Olson said she has seen Internet comments blaming Muslims living in Idaho since Kurbanov’s arrest, something she called inappropriate. ‘‘These charges shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on that community,’’ Olson said.

    About 90 percent of Uzbeks in their home country are Muslim. Representatives of the Islamic Center of Boise, a meeting area for the region’s Muslim community, didn’t immediately return a phone call Friday.

    The Idaho indictment charges Kurbanov with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiracy to give material support to terrorists and possession of an unregistered explosive device.

    It alleges that between August and May, he knowingly conspired with others to provide resources, including computer software and money, to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the United States has identified as a terrorist organization. The group’s purpose is to overthrow the government of Uzbekistan, said David B. Barlow, US attorney in Utah. The alleged coconspirators were not named.

    The indictment also alleges Kurbanov provided material support to terrorists, knowing it was to be used in preparation for a plot involving the use of a weapon of mass destruction.

    On Nov. 15, Kurbanov possessed a series of parts intended to be converted into a bomb, including a hollow hand grenade and aluminum powder, according to the indictment.

    A separate federal grand jury in Utah charged Kurbanov with distributing information about bombs. For 10 days in January, Kurbanov taught and demonstrated how to make an ‘‘explosive, destructive device and weapon of mass destruction,’’ the document states.

    The Utah indictment, to be handled separately after the Idaho prosecution is resolved, alleges Kurbanov provided recipes for how to make improvised explosive devices and went on instructional shopping trips in Utah to help illustrate how to make the devices, Barlow said. Kurbanov also showed Internet videos on the topic, Barlow said.