CHICAGO (AP) — One of six Bosnian immigrants accused of sending money and military equipment to rebel groups in Syria appeared Saturday in federal court in Chicago.
Mediha Medy Salkicevic, a 34-year-old mother of four from the Chicago suburb of Schiller Park, was arrested by the FBI on Friday. Like the other defendants, she’s charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support to groups designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State group and an al-Qaida-affiliated group known as the Nusra Front. If convicted, she could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 on each charge.
Salkicevic, wearing an orange jail uniform, spoke only to confirm that she understood the charges.
The case will be tried in Missouri, where several other defendants were arrested. A Monday bond hearing will determine whether Salkicevic travels there on her own or in custody.
Speaking to reporters afterward, defense attorney Andrea Gambino stressed that Salkicevic is considered innocent until proven guilty.
“Everybody should remember that,” Gambino said.
An indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis said the six defendants donated money themselves and in some cases collected funds from others in the U.S. and sent the donations overseas. It says two of the defendants, a husband and wife in St. Louis, used some of the money to buy U.S. military uniforms, firearms accessories, tactical gear and other equipment, which was shipped to people in Turkey and Saudi Arabia who forwarded the supplies to people fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Money also was sent to support family members of the foreign fighters, the indictment says. All of the defendants knew where the money and supplies were going, the indictment says.
The indictment alleges the conspiracy began no later than May 2013 and that the defendants used email, phones and social media websites including Facebook to communicate.
All six people who are charged are natives of Bosnia who were living in the U.S. legally. Three are naturalized citizens; the other three had either refugee or legal resident status, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Besides Salkicevic, the indictment names Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Illinois.
Salkicevic is accused of sending several thousand dollars to Ramiz Hodzic in St. Louis via PayPal.
According to the indictment, Hodzic sent her a photo of two sniper rifle scopes being shipped and that Salkicevic replied by saying she hoped they would be put to good use.
Salkicevic has four children and is employed, but her attorney declined to give reporters any other information about her.
Five of the defendants have been arrested; the sixth is overseas, but the Justice Department declined to say where.
Online court records do not list defense attorneys for any of the defendants. According to court records, the Hodzics had a first appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in St. Louis on Friday and the court said it would appoint attorneys for them.
The property manager at the complex where the Hodzics live told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the couple had been living there for 1½ years with their three children. Larry Sorth and his wife, Joyce, said they were surprised by the arrests and that the couple was friendly.
“She was very sweet, to tell you the truth,” Joyce Sorth said of Sedina Hodzic.