CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday refused to free an Illinois mother accused of aiding terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, saying prosecutors showed she was a potential threat and had motive to flee to Bosnia.
Mediha Medy Salkicevic is among six Bosnian immigrants in Illinois, Missouri and New York accused of sending money and equipment to groups the U.S. deems terrorist organizations, including Islamic State and Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group.
In siding with prosecutors, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole noted that Salkicevic was driving to a passport office when she was pulled over and arrested on Friday. He also cited evidence showing she was building a large home in Bosnia, a Balkan country where her mother and three sisters still live.
Salkicevic, employed as a cargo handler at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, sought U.S. refugee status after escaping war in Bosnia in the 1990s, when Bosnian Muslims like her were often targeted, according to her attorneys.
An indictment unsealed last week in St. Louis alleges that the six suspects plotted by phone, Facebook and email, and sent money using PayPal and Western Union. They also are accused of shipping military gear through the U.S. Postal Service.
Cole's ruling means U.S. marshals will soon transfer Salkicevic to St. Louis, where the case is being handled. If convicted, she could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Salkicevic's attorney had asked that she be allowed to travel to St. Louis on her own, noting she had four children living in the U.S. Cole apologized to her children during Tuesday's hearing, but said another judge could reconsider bond once she is transferred to St. Louis.
In a written order released after the hearing, Cole cited the indictment's allegations that Salkicevic responded approvingly when a co-conspirator sent her a photograph of long-rifle scopes bound for militants and said she hoped they would be "put to good use."
"It is vain to contend that the defendant's expression of satisfaction at the prospect of others being killed is too ambiguous," Cole wrote. "Only literary perversity or jaundiced partisanship could find an innocent meaning in the defendant's words."
Before Tuesday's hearing, defense attorney Andrea Gambino told The Associated Press her client understands the gravity of the charges despite her frequent smiling during hearings. She smiled, Gambino said, merely to convey to family members in court they should "stay strong."
"She takes it very seriously. She believes she is innocent," Gambino added.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm