US citizen charged with training IS group members

NEW YORK (AP) — A United States (US) citizen from Kazakhstan facing terrorism charges after he became a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State (IS) group once boasted that he supports “the worst terrorist organisation in the world,” authorities said as they announced his arrest on Friday.

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, was transferred to FBI custody on Wednesday and brought to the US after his detention overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces, federal authorities said in a release.

“Asainov travelled overseas, joined IS, and became a fighter and a sniper for the terrorist organisation,” said Assistant Attorney General John C Demers. “He was ultimately detained overseas, turned over to the FBI, and will now face justice in an American courtroom.”

Asainov was detained without bail following an appearance on Friday in Brooklyn federal court.

Outside court, Defence Attorney Susan Kellman said her client was “very pleasant, very forthcoming” but was reluctant to speak up when a judge asked him if he understood his rights.

The naturalised US citizen born in Kazakhstan spent from 1998 to 2013 living in Brooklyn before flying to Istanbul in December 2013 and making his way into Syria, where he became a sniper for the organisation, a criminal complaint said.

It said he rose through the group’s ranks, becoming an emir in charge of training other members in the use of weapons and even helped to establish training camps.