Uzbek man linked to terror group pleads guilty to plot to kill Obama


A man from Uzbekistan has pleaded guilty to plotting to kill President Barack Obama during the 2012 election campaign.

Ulugbek Kodirov, 22, had entered the United States from Uzbekistan on a student visa in June 2009, said the kill plot was at the direction of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department.

According to the Associated Press, Kodirov had discussed trying to kill the president with an automatic rifle as he campaigned for re-election, on the basis he would be out in public more often.

He expressed a willingness to die in the attempt to assassinate Obama from close range, if it came to that.

Kordirov — whose visa was revoked on April 1, 2010 after he failed to enroll in school, although he continued living in the United States — was arrested while trying to obtain explosives and guns from an undercover agent, the US Justice Department said, Sky News reported.

At a hearing in Birmingham, Alabama, before US District Judge Abdul K. Kallon, an Obama appointee, Kodirov pleaded guilty to three counts: threatening to kill the president, possessing an automatic weapon, and providing material support to terrorists.

In pleading guilty, he avoided a potential life sentence, defense lawyer Lance Bell reportedly said, with four other charges dropped as part of the deal.

However, he still faces up to 30 years in prison.

And the judge told Kodirov that he would face deportation once released from prison.

As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, Kodirov admitted he had communicated with a suspected member of the IMU identified only as "the Emir" who suggested that he kill Obama.

Kodirov also admitted to discussing with another person his desire to kill Obama and ways to carry out the assassination.

That person introduced him to the undercover law enforcement agent from whom he planned to purchase weapons.

The plea agreement, according to Agence France-Presse, said that Kodirov became disheartened when he realized how expensive sniper rifles were and realized he lacked the skill to pull off the shot. That's when Kodirov decided he might need to shoot Obama from a closer distance in public.

"Kodirov said that he did not care if he got shot and killed, as long as he killed President Obama," according to the plea deal.

Kodirov also struck up a friendship with another person in Birmingham who spoke Uzbek, attended mosque with him and viewed jihadist websites and videos on Kodirov's laptop.

On July 11, after the two went to a mosque in Birmingham to pray, Kodirov asked his friend to buy a gun for him so he could kill Obama. Kodirov told the person he "knew this was what he was supposed to do for Islam", the plea agreement says.

The AP cites US lawyer Joyce Vance as saying that Kodirov's threats were serious enough that law enforcement officers felt they had to intervene.

"He had developed a plan, he was reaching out to other individuals for aid and acquiring firepower necessary to kill the president," Vance said.

Bell said Kodirov regretted what happened and "accepted responsibility for the charges he pled guilty to".


Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.