A former Bay Ridge resident and one-time stockbroker could spend the rest of his life in prison for joining ISIS after a jury convicted him of multiple charges in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, 46, converted to Islam in 2009 and developed extremist views with help from radical online content. Four years later, they said, he dropped out of classes at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and bought a one-way ticket to Turkey, leaving behind his wife and daughter. From there, they said he traveled to Syria to train and fight.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Asainov became a sniper for ISIS and taught sniper skills to about 100 others. In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said that Asainov spent about five years fighting for ISIS, until he was captured after the terrorist organization’s last stand in Baghouz in 2019. He was indicted later that year.
“There is no place in a civilized world for the defendant’s bloody campaign of death and destruction,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.
Asainov admitted to the FBI that he had fought with ISIS in multiple battles and told his mother in recorded phone calls that he was carrying out Allah’s orders, according to prosecutors. Asainov’s wife also testified at trial that he had told her he had joined ISIS and had sent her a photograph of dead ISIS fighters. Bureau of Prisons staff allegedly confiscated a handmade ISIS flag that he hung in his cell in 2020.
Asainov was convicted of all five counts against him, including providing material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice. Jurors also found that his actions had resulted in the deaths of one or more people.
Asainov faces a sentence of life in prison. His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Associated Press reported that Asainov’s lawyers challenged his own statements, arguing that he had exaggerated his role and that his claims lacked corroborating evidence.