He was a Russian-speaking truck driver who came to Idaho nearly four years ago to join hundreds of other Uzbekistan refugees for whom the state has become a sanctuary from violence in their home country.
But federal officials say in an indictment that Fazliddin Kurbanov also was teaching people to build bombs that would target public transportation.
It’s unclear whether those alleged targets were domestic or abroad — or how far Kurbanov would have gone. Prosecutors said Friday only that they believe he no longer is a threat.
Kurbanov, 30, was arrested Thursday during a raid of his small apartment south of Boise’s downtown.
Prosecutors charged him with felonies in Idaho and Utah after an extensive investigation into his activities late last year and this year. They allege those activities included assisting a militant group in his native Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country with a southern border with Afghanistan.
“Given his arrest, we believe any potential threat he posed has been contained,” U.S Attorney Wendy Olson said. She noted the investigation is ongoing but declined to say whether federal agents are pursuing additional arrests.
Kurbanov said little Friday during his first court appearance, where he pleaded not guilty with help from an interpreter and a federally appointed defense attorney. Kurbanov wore a jail jumpsuit and had dark hair and a beard that was much shorter than the one pictured in his Idaho driver’s license.
Kurbanov lists Uzbek as his first language and Russian as his second in court documents. Federal officials said they will enlist the help of an interpreter again Tuesday when he appears for his detention hearing.
Until then, Kurbanov will be held in the Ada County Jail. His trial on the three counts filed in Idaho is scheduled for July 2.