ST. LOUIS » Six Bosnian immigrants have been accused of sending money and military equipment to terrorist fighters overseas, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida in Iraq.
An indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis said the 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 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 terrorists.
The supplies and money eventually made their way to fighters in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, according to the indictment. Money also was sent to support family members of terrorist 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 using coded words, such as "brothers," ”lions" and "Bosnian brothers."
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.
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; Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Illinois; and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Illinois.
All face charges of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists and with providing material support to terrorists. Rosic and Ramiz Hodzic are also charged with conspiring to kill and maim people in a foreign country.
The indictment says that last July, Rosic tried to board a flight from New York to Syria to join the fight.
The U.S. attorney’s office said five of the defendants have been arrested; the sixth is overseas, but the Justice Department declined to say exactly 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 1 1/2 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.
In a news release announcing the charges, the U.S. attorney’s office said the crimes of conspiring to provide material support and providing material support carry penalties ranging up to 15 years in prison. Conspiring to kill and maim people in a foreign country carries a penalty of up to life in prison.