Man who lived in Pelham hotel pleads guilty to supporting terrorism
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
An Uzbek native who lived for about two years at a Pelham extended-stay hotel pleaded guilty on Feb. 10 to counts of supporting terrorism, threatening to kill President Barack Obama and possessing a gun while living illegally in the United States.
Ulugbek Kodirov, 22, pleaded guilty to the charges during a hearing in front of U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon, and could now be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. Kodirov, who was wearing an orange “Shelby County Jail” jumpsuit and ankle shackles during the hearing, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17 at 9 a.m. at the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham.
Kodirov also faced charges of receiving and possessing an unregistered grenade and unlawfully possessing a fully automatic weapon, but those charges were dropped as a result of a plea deal.
As part of the plea deal, Kodirov also agreed to be “deported without delay” after serving his sentence, and waived his right to appeal the case, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Whisonant said during the hearing.
During the hearing, Whisonant said Kodirov came to the United States in 2009 on a student visa, but the visa was revoked in 2010 when Kodirov failed to enroll in a school. Kodirov’s attorney, Lance Bell, said Kodirov lived at the Oak Mountain Lodge in Pelham for the majority of the time he was in the United States.
Whisonant said Kodirov had been in contact with a person known as “the Emir,” who was involved in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, while Kodirov was living in Pelham. Whisonant said the IMU is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
Whisonant said “the Emir” instructed Kodirov to kill Obama, and said Kodirov looked at firearms at several local gun stores while he was living in Pelham.
“He said he was ready to die to carry out the plan to kill the president,” Whisonant said of Kodirov.
On July 13, 2011, Whisonant said Kodirov traveled to a motel in Leeds. There, Kodirov met with an undercover agent who offered him a choice of several weapons: a fully automatic machine gun, a sniper rifle with a telescopic scope and four disassembled hand grenades.
The undercover agent showed Kodirov how to assemble and arm the grenades before Kodirov left the motel room with the disassembled grenades and the machine gun. Law enforcement agents then arrested Kodirov before he left the motel.