Filipino in jihadist plot to be extradited to US
A Filipino suspect in a thwarted jihadist plot targeting New York’s subway and Times Square will be extradited to the United States, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Sunday.
Russell Salic and two others have been charged with involvement in the plan to carry out the attacks in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016.
Salic transferred $423 in May 2016 to the other suspects for the operation, saying he could safely do this from the Philippines without attracting attention, according to US documents released on Friday.
Surrendered in April
Salic, a 37-year-old doctor, surrendered to authorities in April after learning that a warrant for his arrest had been issued based on information provided by the Interpol, Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said on Sunday.
The United States has requested Salic’s extradition, the US justice department said.
“It only means that we have to begin the extradition proceedings being requested,” Aguirre said in a statement on Sunday without giving a timeframe.
“We have a process to be followed and this has been done many times in the past. The preliminary investigation [of Salic], in the meantime, will continue,” he said.
Aguirre said Salic was also under investigation over a local case, but was unable to give details.
Int’l terror network
Año said Salic was in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.
He said Salic was affiliated with an international network of terrorists supporting IS but had no links to the IS-inspired Maute terror group in Lanao del Sur whose members, aided by a pro-IS faction of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group, had been battling government security forces since May 23 for control of Marawi City.
“He [was] providing financial support to several extremists or suspicious terrorists in the Middle East, in the US, Malaysia,” Año said in an interview, a transcript of which was provided to reporters.
“He was very active on social media, websites that groups related to [IS] have been using,” he said.
Authorities had been monitoring Salic’s activities since 2014, he added.
Salic is not related to former Marawi City Mayor Fajad Umpar Salic, he added.
The former Marawi mayor is facing rebellion charges for alleged involvement in the Maute-Abu Sayyaf siege of the city that has killed more than 900 people.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella confirmed on Sunday that Salic was under NBI custody.
“We confirm that Russel Salic, who has been charged for allegedly supporting a foiled terror plot in New York City, is under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation,” Abella said.
“Salic, said to be the physician attending to the Maute group, is currently undergoing preliminary investigation [in] the Department of Justice over kidnapping and murder charges,” he said.
The US justice department said on Saturday that Salic had boasted that his country was “a breeding ground for terrorists.”
Salic and the other suspects had targeted multiple locations, including New York’s subway, Times Square as some concert venues, but the plot was foiled by an undercover FBI agent, US authorities said on Friday.
The FBI agent posed as an IS supporter and communicated with Salic and his two alleged accomplices, Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canandian who purchased bombmaking materials, and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan. —With a report from Agence France-Presse
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