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Russian Taliban fighter who planned to shoot down American helicopters sentenced to life behind bars

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-03 17:10:45-05

Richmond, Va. – A Russian Taliban fighter who led an attack on U.S. and Afghan forces in 2009 was sentenced to life plus 30 years behind bars.

Officials say Irek ilgiz Hamidullin, 55, was a Russian national and Russian army tank commander. They say he conspired to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspired to shoot down American helicopters to kill U.S. and Afghan Soldiers.

“The sentence imposed today on the defendant Hamidullin for masterminding an attack on U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan serves as a reminder of the global reach and determination of the FBI to exact justice through the American legal system,” said Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Documents say Hamidullin had contact with high-level Taliban and Haqqani Network personnel.  He led a group of fighters on Camp Leyza, which is in the Khost Province of Afghanistan.

They say he planned the attack for several months.

During the attack, Hamidullin positioned himself on a hill nearby away from his fighters. Officials say as the helicopters approached the area, he ordered his fighters to fire anti-aircraft weapons. Both of the weapons malfunctioned and the helicopters were not hit.

He then told his fighters to pack up their weapons and gear and return to Pakistan.

U.S. aircraft spotted the fighters bounding back in an organized, military fashion.

They also saw the fighters carrying machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. That’s when the U.S. helicopters engaged the fighters and they eliminated 20 of them.

U.S. military personnel say they found that the insurgents were well equipped. They had GPS devices, $400 military-style watches, three 50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns, 82 millimeter recoilless rifles and other smaller weapons and grenades.

Hamidullin was convicted by a federal jury.

The next day they found Hamidullin hiding on the battlefield. He was captured following a brief gun fight.