An American citizen was arrested in Syria after becoming a sniper and weapons trainer for the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), federal authorities in New York said Friday. Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 42, was transferred to FBI custody Wednesday and brought to the United States after his detention overseas by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Asainov, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Kazakhstan, appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday.
According to investigators, in December 2013, Asainov traveled to Istanbul, a common transit point to gain entry into Syria. After entering Syria, he joined the ISIS terrorist organization, became a sniper and rose to the rank of "emir" in charge of training other ISIS members in the use of weapons. From 1998 to 2013, Asainov lived in Brooklyn.
The complaint said he tried to recruit an individual in the U.S. to go to Syria to fight and asked a confidential informant to send him $2,800 so he could buy a scope for his rifle.
Authorities said he messaged one associate, saying the fellow ISIS members "are the worst terrorist organization in the world that has ever existed," adding that he wished to die on the battlefield.
A confidential informant working with the New York Police Department intelligence division had known Asainov since 2008 and began communicating with him in August 2014 after spotting him online, the complaint said.
Asainov tried to recruit the informant to go to Syria and join the ISIS, saying he'd help get him a job, housing, food and $50 a month, according to the complaint. Asainov suggested he bring his family, too, saying "even grandmothers are coming."