Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, a Russian national standing trial on multiple terrorism charges from 2009, was found guilty on Friday in a U.S. court in Virginia. Hamidullin was accused of working alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers and take down an American helicopter, amongst other charges in connection to a 2009 attack he led on U.S.-Afghan forces.
“Irek Hamidullin 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,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin, in a press release. “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.”
— U.S. Attorney EDVA (@EDVAnews) August 8, 2015
Hamidullin is a former Russian army tank commander who had been fighting and planning with Taliban and Haqqani Network people in Afghanistan against the United States, according to court documents referenced in the release. For months, he planned an attack that received authorization from Taliban and Haqqani leaders. With the support of fighters he recruited, Hamidullin led the attack with an arsenal that included IEDs, heavy machine guns and rocket launchers to take down responding U.S. helicopters.
The battle took place in Khost province, southeast of Kabul and near the border with Pakistan. Hamidullin is said to have positioned himself with a view of the battlefield so that he could radio in orders to the fighters he recruited. When the U.S. helicopters responded, the rocket launchers malfunctioned and the fighters were forced to retreat. Twenty of his fighters were killed in the process, and Hamidullin himself was later found hiding on the battle field. He exchanged fire with military forces there but was ultimately captured and taken, secretly, into custody.
Hamidullin, 55, could face life in prison, depending on how the court rules in his sentencing on Nov. 6. He was indicted in November 2014. Where to try the man was a bit of a struggle for the Obama administration, which had a hard time deciding if he should be prosecuted in a civilian or military court.
The United States has dramatically cut its military presence in Afghanistan in recent years.