Federal prosecutors recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Kosovo with new evidence against a U.S. citizen from Brooklyn accused of trying to join a terrorist group overseas.
The man, Betim Kaziu, was charged in September 2009 with conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and to provide material support to terrorists. According to the indictment, Kaziu traveled to Egypt in February 2009 to purchase weapons and then attempted to join the Somali-based Al-Shabaab, which is an affiliate of al Qaida and a terrorist group designated by the State Department. He also sought to train in Pakistan to fight American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans, but was finally arrested in Kosovo possessing 2 AK-47s and several hand grenades.
The new evidence against Kaziu comes from a witness in Kosovo who provided details to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn about Kaziu's activities in the Balkans prior to his arrest in August 2009.
In his May 23 deposition before a special proceeding in a district court in southern Kosovo, the witness confirmed that Kaziu was a radical Islamist, stating "he wanted to die a martyr for the cause of Islam." He also testified to watching al Qaida propaganda videos with Kaziu on the latter's computer in Kosovo. In terms of his desire to support terrorist groups, the witness said that Kaziu "maybe" expressed interest in joining al Qaida but he wasn't certain.
Assistant US Attorney Shreve Ariail informed Judge John Gleeson in New York that prosecutors may introduce this new evidence at Kaziu's upcoming trial.