A Russian man has been charged in California with attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization, authorities said Friday. Murat Kurashev, 34, of Sacramento was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury. He is in custody and could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Foreign terrorist arrested on US soil
It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Kurashev, a Russian national, was arrested by the FBI. The indictment accuses him of attempting to provide “material support or resources,” including financial support, to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. However, the indictment didn’t contain any details.
The group, also known as the “Organization for the Liberation of the Levant,” is a militant group that aims to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The group has conducted suicide bombings and the United States has designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.
Radical Islamic terrorism continues to be a threat
Organization for the Liberation of the Levant, or “Levant Liberation Committee”, commonly referred to as Tahrir al-Sham, is an active Sunni Islamist militant group involved in the Syrian Civil War. It was formed on 28 January 2017 as a merger between Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front), the Ansar al-Din Front, Jaysh al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq, and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement. After the announcement, additional groups and individuals joined.
The merged group is currently led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and former Ahrar al-Sham leaders, although the High Command consists of leaders from other groups. Many groups and individuals defected from Ahrar al-Sham, representing their more conservative and Salafist elements. The Ansar al-Din Front and Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement have since split off from Tahrir al-Sham. It had an estimated 20,000 members in 2019.
Despite the merger, Tahrir al-Sham has been accused of working as Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch on a covert level, and is considered by many analysts to be one of its branches, and that many of the group’s senior figures, particularly Abu Jaber, held similarly extreme views. However, Tahrir al-Sham has officially denied being part of al-Qaeda and said in a statement that the group is “an independent entity and not an extension of previous organizations or factions”.