Russian Taliban fighter convicted of terrorism charges
Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, 55, a Russian national and former Russian army tank commander, faces life term imprisonment. His sentencing is scheduled for November 6, 2015.
The Justice Department said Hamidullin has been convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to shoot down American helicopters and to kill US and Afghan soldiers. He has also been convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and several other charges related to an attack he led on US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan in November 2009.
Hamidullin was captured and detained by the US military in Afghanistan and brought to the United States for trial.
“Irek Hamidullin was convicted of numerous terrorism offenses in connection with orchestrating and conducting a violent attack on Afghan and U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2009, including conspiring to kill members of the U.S. military,” said Assistant Attorney General John P Carlin.
According to court records and evidence at trial, Hamidullin was a former Russian army tank commander who had contact with high level Taliban and Haqqani Network personnel.
On November 28, 2009, Hamidullin led a group of fighters in an attack on U.S. and Afghan forces at Camp Leyza, located in the Khost Province of Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan.
He had planned the attack for months, received approval from the Taliban and Haqqani Network, recruited other fighters and acquired weapons for the attack, including IED’s, heavy machine guns and a shoulder-fired rocket, with the intent of shooting down U.S. helicopters responding to the attack.
According to evidence presented at trial, on the night of November 28, 2009, Hamidullin and his fighters initiated their attack, beginning with firing into Camp Leyza.
Soon after the attack began, two U.S. Army helicopters responded to Camp Leyza, just as Hamidullin knew from his months of planning and reconnaissance.
He positioned himself on a nearby hill, away from his fighters, where he had a clear view of the battlefield and could radio orders to his fighters. As the helicopters approached, he ordered his fighters to fire the anti-aircraft weapons he had strategically placed in the area.
Both weapons malfunctioned and the helicopters were not fired upon. He then ordered his fighters to pack up their weapons and other gear and return to Pakistan. During their retreat, U.S. forces ultimately identified and eliminated approximately 20 of Hamidullin’s fighters.
The next morning, as U.S. and Afghan forces were conducting a battle damage assessment, Hamidullin was found hiding on the battlefield. After a brief firefight with U.S. Army soldiers, the two insurgents were killed and Hamidullin was wounded and captured.
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