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Phl to extradite ISIS-linked terror suspect to US

The Philippine Star
Phl to extradite ISIS-linked terror suspect to US

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) during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016. News5/File

MANILA, Philippines —  A Filipino doctor suspected in a thwarted terror plot targeting New York’s subway and Times Square will face legal proceedings seeking his extradition to the United States, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said yesterday.

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) during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016.

Salic was arrested in the Philippines in April 2017 and the US had requested his extradition, the US Justice Department said.

“It only means that we have to begin the extradition proceedings being requested,” Aguirre said.

“We have a process to be followed and this has been done many times in the past,” he said.

Salic is facing charges of kidnapping and murder, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

Aguirre said the preliminary investigation over his case here in the Philippines would continue.

He said the DOJ would study options on how to go about the process considering Salic is also facing criminal charges here.

“That is subject of study of our state counsels,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the preliminary investigation of the case against Salic would continue while extradition proceedings are being processed.

“The Philippines shares information and extends full cooperation with partners on matters pertaining to terrorism, and in the case of Dr. Salic will include initiating extradition proceedings being requested by the US,” he said.   

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año yesterday said Salic was in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Salic, a 37-year-old Filipino doctor, transferred $423 in May 2016 to the other suspects for the operation, according to US court documents released on Friday.

Multiple locations including New York’s subway, Times Square and some concert venues were identified as targets in the plot that was foiled by an undercover FBI agent, US authorities announced Friday.

The agent posed as an IS supporter and communicated with Salic and his two alleged accomplices: Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian who purchased bombmaking materials, and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan.

A complaint signed by the agent quoted messages sent by Salic to others involved in the plot in which he described terror laws in the Philippines as “not strict” in comparison to countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

The US Justice Department said Salic had described the Philippines as a “breeding ground for terrorists.” 

Salic was an orthopedic surgeon associated with a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City in southern Philippines, the complaint said.

Confirmed

Malacañang yesterday confirmed the details given regarding Salic.

Abella said Salic is currently facing charges of kidnapping and murder.

“Dr. Salic, said to be the physician attending to the Maute group, is currently undergoing preliminary investigation before the Department of Justice over kidnapping and murder charges,” Abella said, referring to the terror group linked to the IS.

Año added Salic had sent funds to other nations for the “IS terrorist network.”

“He was very active on social media, websites that groups related to ISIS have been using,” Año said using another name for IS.

Armed militants flying the black IS flag have been besieging the city of Marawi since May, leaving more than 950 people dead.

The fighting, which is still raging despite artillery and air strikes and US military assistance, has left the once-thriving city in ruins with thousands of civilians displaced.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the government is doing what it can to address the threat posed by terrorists. 

“The suspect (Salic) who said that the Philippines is a breeding ground for terrorists was arrested early this year. This government is already aggressively addressing the terror threats as you may notice in the operations that led to his (Salic) arrest and the battle in Marawi,” Andanar said.                  

                                  – With AFP

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