Six Bosnian immigrants to the US have been accused of sending money and equipment to Islamic State and Al-Qaeda fighters overseas, according to an indictment released Friday in St. Louis. The suspects are claimed to have collected and sent money overseas, and two of the charged individuals purchased tactical gear, uniforms, firearms accessories, and the like with the money for shipment to contacts in Saudi Arabia and Turkey who supply Islamist fighters.
All six individuals’ names have been released; Mediha Medy Salkicevic from Chicago, 34, Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, Armin Harcevic, 37, all three from St. Louis, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York, and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford Illinois. The indictment states that all knew where the funding was going and that all are Bosnian natives who either legally immigrated to the United States or had refugee status. Five of the six have been already arrested; Ramic has fled the country but the Justice Department has not yet disclosed her location. According to the indictment, Rosic tried to go to Syria to join Islamic State last July.
The suspects used social media such as Facebook to communicate and sent their funding online via PayPal and Western Union. In order to conceal their intentions from any investigation, coded terms were used such as “the beach” for Iraq and Syria as well as “brothers” for Islamic militants. The US Postal Service was used to ship the equipment purchased.
As we reported back in December, this is not the first time extremist elements in Bosnian expatriate and immigrant communities have been accused of aiding Islamic State. In December of last year, Austrian police conducted a series of raids on mosques tied to the Bosnian immigrant community in Vienna. And Bosnia has been a favorite target of Wahhabist proselytizing, and Bosnian police have often made raids on suspected Islamist groups operating within the country.
Recently, sightings of Islamic State flags by a Reuters photojournalist in the village of Gornja Maoca brought attention from both Bosnian law enforcement and foreign journalists. However, the flags were long since gone by the time police arrived. Gornja Maoca is known to be a local stronghold of Wahhabi Islam within Bosnia.
These most recent arrests show continues to show that the Islamic State continues to possess a powerfully draw on potential supporters, and while this is traditionally understood through the lens of foreign fighters, law enforcement must remain on watch to break up logistic and funding cells such as the one in St. Louis.