Illinois woman accused of aiding extremists appears in court

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2015 6:55 PM
Illinois woman accused of aiding extremists appears in court

CHICAGO (AP) — A prosecutor told a federal judge Monday that a suburban Chicago mother of four accused of sending money and military equipment to militant groups in Syria and Iraq poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk, so should remain in custody.

Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 and one of six Bosnian immigrants charged Friday, raised her fist and smiled at relatives as she appeared at the bond hearing in Chicago. Standing in orange jail clothes and with her hair covered, she also signaled for them to keep their chins up.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole will decide whether to allow the Schiller Park woman to travel on her own to St. Louis, where the case is being handled, or if she will be escorted by U.S. marshals. Cole said he would rule Tuesday.

The defendants are accused of sending money and equipment to groups the U.S. has deemed as terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State group and Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group.

Salkicevic works as a cargo handler at O'Hare International Airport, which raises security concerns, prosecutor Angel Krull said; she didn't elaborate.

Krull also told the court that Salkicevic has relatives in Bosnia, including her mother and three sisters, increasing the chances of her fleeing abroad.

But defense attorney Andrea Gambino said Salkicevic has four children living in the United States and that there's no evidence she poses a danger.

"She is alleged to have transferred money, which is not itself a dangerous act," she said.

Cole sounded skeptical, citing the indictment as saying Salkicevic expressed pleasure at seeing pictures of sniper scopes and hoping they would be put to good use in Syria.

"The good use is killing people," Cole said.

Salkicevic faces a maximum 30-year prison sentence if convicted. "That's a powerful ... motive to flee," the judge said.

The indictment unsealed Friday in St. Louis alleges the six suspects plotted by phone, Facebook and email; sent money via PayPal and Western Union; and shipped military gear through the U.S. Postal Service.

The indictment also names Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; Armin Harcevic, 37, of St. Louis County, Missouri; and Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, and his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, also of St. Louis County.

All are charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists and with providing material support to terrorists. Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Rosic are also charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons abroad.

The Hodzics are scheduled to appear in federal court in St. Louis Wednesday. Sedina Hodzic's attorney, Paul J. D'Agrosa, said in an email that his client will plead not guilty. An attorney for Ramiz Hodzic didn't return a message seeking comment.

There was no attorney listed for Armin Harcevic.

Ramic is overseas. Her daughter, Sejla Ramic, told WREX-TV the allegations are false.

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Associated Press writer Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.