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New York man who became ISIS sniper found guilty of providing support for terrorism

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — A former Brooklyn man, who became a sniper and weapons instructor for ISIS, was convicted Tuesday of providing material support to terrorism and other charges.

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Bay Ridge, was found guilty on all five counts, including charges that his material support for ISIS resulted in death. He faces up to life in prison.

“As proven at trial, Asainov was a member of ISIS, a violent foreign terrorist organization, which has committed numerous acts resulting in the deaths of many U.S. citizens and others,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace. “The defendant committed to the terrorist organization’s evil cause and made an extraordinary journey to the battlefield in Syria, where he became a lethal sniper for ISIS and trained many other ISIS members to kill. Even after being captured, he still pledged his allegiance to ISIS.”

Asainov is a naturalized U.S. citizen who converted to Islam in 2009 and became increasingly interested in Islamic extremism. By 2013, he was consuming radical content online, dropped out of Borough of Manhattan Community College and began preparing to travel to Syria.

Asainov abandoned his wife and daughter in Brooklyn before traveling on a one-way ticket from New York to Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain entry into Syria. Upon his arrival, he fought for five years on behalf of ISIS, including the Islamic State’s last stand in Syria Baghouz, in March 2019. His wife testified he sent her a photograph of three dead fighters, one of whom was wearing a patch that stated, “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” in Arabic script.

Asainov received training on how to use automatic rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and trained as a sniper. During the two-week trial, a former U.S. Navy SEAL scout sniper testified the sniper training course Asainov was in was consistent with what the former SEAL would expect to be taught in a sniper training program.

Asainov was captured in Syria and told his mother in a recorded phone call from prison he was carrying out Allah’s orders when he waged jihad and killed for ISIS. He also said that he intended to return to waging jihad if released, and that he would fight until he “meet[s] Allah,” according to the indictment.

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