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Uzbek Refugee Arrested in U.S.

A reporter interviewing Muhtorov’s next-door neighbor Monday in Aurora. Ed Andrieski

AURORA, Colorado — The FBI arrested a refugee from Uzbekistan at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on charges that he planned to travel overseas to fight for a terrorist group and give up his life if necessary, an official said.

However, there was no evidence that suspect Jamshid Muhtorov was plotting attacks inside the United States, authorities said.

Muhtorov, 35, was arrested Saturday by members of the FBI’s Denver and Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

Muhtorov, who goes by several other names, was indicted on charges of providing and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Prosecutors allege he planned to fight for the Islamic Jihad Union, which has been blamed for suicide attacks in Uzbekistan and claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

An FBI affidavit said the group also carried out simultaneous suicide bombings of the U.S. and Israeli embassies and a prosecutor’s office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Muhtorov was arrested without incident before he could board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.

Muhtorov made a brief court appearance Monday in Chicago and waived his rights to further hearings. Judge Morton Denlow then ordered Muhtorov to be transferred to Denver, but it wasn’t immediately clear how soon that would happen.

No one answered the door Monday at an apartment where the FBI said Muhtorov lived.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Muhtorov’s apartment for a laptop computer, a Blackberry cell phone, and permission to search two e-mail accounts they said were used by Muhtorov, according to the indictment.

The FBI said Muhtorov communicated with a contact with the terror organization by e-mail using code words, asking to be invited to the “wedding.” He also told the contact that he was “ready for any task, even with the risk of dying,” the FBI said.

In April, Muhtorov e-mailed the contact that an associate had sent money for a “wedding gift” and expressed willingness to help with the wedding, the FBI affidavit said. In a May e-mail, Muhtorov said he planned to travel to Istanbul and would bring a “wedding gift,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit said the FBI intercepted phone calls last summer between Muhtorov and his wife in which they argued about travel plans to Kyrgyzstan or Turkey.

In a July phone call, Muhtorov told his young daughter that he would never see her again, but “if she was a good Muslim girl, he will see her in heaven,” the FBI said.

Neighbors said Muhtorov worked as a truck driver and lived with three children and a woman. They often cooked on a barbecue grill, and two of the children — a girl about 6 and a boy about 4 — sometimes played outside.

Cody Bank said a white, unmarked 18-wheeler truck was often parked outside the building. He said he saw Muhtorov and his family out barbecuing once a week, but he didn’t talk to him.

Susan Benjamin, who lives nearby, said she sometimes saw a man and the two young children who lived in the apartment going for rides around the neighborhood in the cab of the truck.

Kevin Inman, whose apartment is in the same building as Muhtorov’s, said people he assumed worked in law enforcement were in and out of Muhtorov’s apartment much of the day on Saturday.

If convicted, Muhtorov could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

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