US trio who 'vowed to kill President Obama and plant bomb in New York' deny plot to join Isis

One defendant allegedly planned to buy a machine gun to mow down police officers if he could not reach Isis in Syria

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The Independent US

A man who allegedly vowed to kill President Barack Obama and plant a bomb in New York for Isis has denied plotting to join the group.

Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, appeared shackled and wearing a blue prison uniform at New York's federal court on Friday alongside Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30. They all pleaded not guilty to terror offences.

A statement from the FBI following their arrests said Juraboev offered to kill the President if ordered to do so by Isis in an internet post in August last year.

More recently, Saidakhmetov expressed his intent to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to reach Syria was defeated, the agency said.

Prosecutors claim the trio conspired to support Isis and committed travel document fraud in their thwarted efforts to reach the so-called Islamic State in Syria.

Federal officials say Juraboev and Saidakhmetov had plane tickets to travel to Turkey but intended to travel onwards.

Saidakhmetov, a Brooklyn resident originally from Kazakhstan, was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport last month while attempting to board a flight to Istanbul, authorities said.

Defendant Akhror Saidakmetov, left; an interpreter, center; and defendant Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, appear at federal court in New York on terrorism charges in February

Juraboev, a Brooklyn resident from Uzbekistan, also had a ticket to travel to Istanbul this month and Habibov was arrested in Florida and extradited to New York this week.

He is accused of helping Saidakhmetov with his travel arrangements after his mother confiscated his passport. She appeared in court, weeping, but did not comment.

Adam Perlmutter, a lawyer for Saidakhmetov, said his client was “very frightened by what's happening to him” and maintained his innocence.

"Obviously he thinks he did nothing wrong," he added.

According to court documents, Juraboev first came to the attention of law enforcement in August, when he posted on an Uzbek-language extremist website that spreads Isis propaganda.

His plans allegedly included attacks on President Obama or planting a bomb on Coney Island, which houses a famous amusement complex and beach resort.

Federal officials said Juraboev identified Saidakhmetov as a friend with a shared ideology.

Coney Island is a short subway ride away from Manhattan (Getty)

Prosecutors told the court they exchanged messages discussing how to get overseas, and Saidakhmetov and an informant watched videos of Isis training camps in Syria.

Saidakhmetov also threatened an attack in the US if he was unable to join Isis, they said, and told an informant in September that he wanted to travel to Syria for jihad but that his concerned mother confiscated his passport.

He allegedly planned to lie and tell her he planned to go to Uzbekistan instead to visit relatives but when he called to ask for his passport back, she hung up the phone.

Habibov, meanwhile, agreed to help finance his trip according to court papers.

Isis fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province

Eric Franz, his lawyer, said his client had been cut off from his family since his arrest. “My client is shocked and astonished by the allegations,” he added.

Habibov is also from Uzbekistan and had been in the US legally until his visa expired, officials said.

The trio, who are all Muslims, are next scheduled to appear in court on 19 June and face a maximum 15 years in prison if convicted.

About 20 people in the US have been charged with planning to join militant groups overseas, many intending to go to Syria to fight for Isis.

Figures suggest more than 20,000 foreigners have joined conflicts in Iraq and Syria in the last three years, including many from Britain, Australia and Europe.

Additional reporting by AP