COURT WATCH: Russian National in Sacramento Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Supporting Syrian Terrorist Group

PC: Nathan Hughes Hamilton
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By The Vanguard Staff 

SACRAMENTO, CA – A Russian national residing in Sacramento pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court here to “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” in Syria, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert.

Murat Kurashev, 36, is expected to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento on March 18, 2024. Kurashev faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said USA Talbert. 

However, the USA attorney office said Monday the sentence “will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.”

Kurashev attempted to “provide financial support to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization that engages in terrorism in Syria. Between July 2020 and February 2021, Kurashev used money transfer services to send approximately $13,000 to two known couriers of an HTS fundraiser,” according to court documents.

The US Attorney’s Office, in the statement, added, “Records obtained from the money transfer services documented multiple transactions from Kurashev to the couriers in Turkey, usually in increments of $1000. The couriers retrieved the funds often within 24 hours of transfer. Surveillance footage from money transfer businesses captured Kurashev during some of the transactions.”

“Social media and encrypted mobile messaging discussions between Kurashev and the fundraiser made clear that Kurashev was fully aware of the fundraiser’s violent extremist ideology and participation and work on behalf of HTS,” court documents clarified.

And, said the US Attorney, “Kurashev stated that he wished he could join the fight in Syria as a mujahideen and regretted that he could only provide financial support. As their conversations showed, Kurashev and the fundraiser believed that providing money in support of the HTS fighters was tantamount to being engaged in violent jihad.”

Court documents noted Kurashev “followed the fundraiser’s online presence and various social media accounts, which included solicitations for money to purchase military equipment, boots, clothing, firearms, and, in one case, a motorcycle. Forensic analysis of Kurashev’s Apple iCloud account revealed it to be replete with violent extremist content, including a video depicting HTS fighters.”

The FBI led the probe, in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section.

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