WASHINGTON–A Russian national and former Russian army tank commander, was convicted Friday by a federal jury of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to shoot down American helicopters and to kill U.S. and Afghan soldiers, conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and several other charges related to an attack he led on U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan in November 2009.
Irek Hamidullin, 55, was convicted of numerous terrorism offenses in connection with orchestrating and conducting a violent attack on Afghan and U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2009, including conspiring to kill members of the U.S. military, according to Assistant Attorney General John Carlin.
“Hamidullin was captured and detained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and brought to the United States for trial. This case once again demonstrates our resolve to find and bring to justice, using all available tools, those who target U.S. citizens and interests around the world,” Carlin said.
Hamidullin was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2014, followed by a superseding indictment on April 23, 2015. The guilty verdict was accepted by U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to court records and evidence at trial, Hamidullin was a former Russian army tank commander who had contact with high level Taliban and Haqqani Network personnel. On Nov. 28, 2009, Hamidullin led a group of fighters in an attack on U.S. and Afghan forces at Camp Leyza, located in the Khost Province of Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan. He had planned the attack for months, received approval from the Taliban and Haqqani Network, recruited other fighters and acquired weapons for the attack, including IED’s, heavy machine guns and a shoulder-fired rocket, with the intent of shooting down U.S. helicopters responding to the attack.
According to evidence presented at trial, on the night of Nov. 28, 2009, Hamidullin and his fighters initiated their attack, beginning with firing into Camp Leyza. Soon after the attack began, two U.S. Army helicopters responded to Camp Leyza, just as Hamidullin knew from his months of planning and reconnaissance. He positioned himself on a nearby hill, away from his fighters, where he had a clear view of the battlefield and could radio orders to his fighters. As the helicopters approached, he ordered his fighters to fire the anti-aircraft weapons he had strategically placed in the area. Both weapons malfunctioned and the helicopters were not fired upon. He then ordered his fighters to pack up their weapons and other gear and return to Pakistan. During their retreat, U.S. forces ultimately identified and eliminated approximately 20 of Hamidullin’s fighters.
The next morning, as U.S. and Afghan forces were conducting a battle damage assessment, Hamidullin was found hiding on the battlefield. After a brief firefight with U.S. Army soldiers, the two insurgents were killed and Hamidullin was wounded and captured.
Hamidullin faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 6.