Former New Yorker, ISIL's alleged Turkey recruiter extradited to US
An Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) recruiter, who reportedly worked in Turkey in the so-called "ISIL border offce" and who is a permanent U.S. resident who abandoned the United States in 2013 to join the group and to cheer on suicide bombers while recruiting and spreading propaganda on the internet has been captured in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, authorities said on Nov. 1.
The former Bronx and Brooklyn resident was extradited Oct. 31 from Bosnia and Herzegovina to face a six-count indictment including charges of conspiracy and providing and attempting to provide support to the ISIL. He has been detained since his July arrest in Sarajevo, the Associated Press reported on Nov. 1.
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the New York FBI office, said Mirsad Kandic expressed a desire to travel overseas to kill or maim U.S. military forces long before he used fake documents to overcome a no-fly designation in December 2013 and travel to Turkey.
Sweeney said Kandic assisted Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old Australian citizen who died in a suicide bomb attack west of Baghdad in March 2015, the U.S. Justice Department's memo read.
“Kandic eventually put his desire in action when he traveled to Turkey to join ISIL, and from there he set about recruiting others, including Jake Bilardi, to support his cause. Just prior to Bilardi successfully detonating a suicide bomb in Ramadi, Kandic told Bilardi he hoped Bilardi’s victims’ organs would ‘implode,’ and just after the attack, Kandic publicized it on Twitter. Kandic is now back in New York, no longer living freely among us, but rather in federal custody to face justice,” Sweeney said.
A few days before Bilardi flew to Turkey, Kandic sent Twitter messages instructing Bilardi to stand in a particular section of an airport in Istanbul. Kandic informed Bilardi that he would send someone to meet him there. From Turkey, Bilardi traveled to ISIL-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq. Kandic continued to communicate with Bilardi and encouraged him to commit a suicide attack in Iraq.
In early March 2015, Bilardi informed Kandic via Twitter that he “just went to look at my target today for my operation.” Kandic replied, “May Allah reward you immensely.” Kandic later added: “May Allah make there inner organs implode.” On March 11, 2015, Bilardi committed a suicide bombing in Ramadi, Iraq. Kandic publicized the attack via Twitter.
Kandic told associates that he traveled to and from ISIL-controlled territory, including Raqqa, Syria, in connection with his work with ISIL. In a recorded voice memo from Kandic to an associate, Kandic stated, “I have a lot of Mujahideen in Europe, a lot,” and “I sent out over 20,000 brothers . . . to Sham.” “Mujahideen” refers to fighters. “Sham” is frequently used by ISIL members to refer to the region of the Levant, including Syria.
Sweeney said of charges that carry a potential for a life prison sentence.
James Branden, a lawyer for Kandic, said he had no immediate comment. His client pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn and was detained without bail.
Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said Kandic recruited others to join ISIL, "swelling their ranks and helping them commit terrorist acts such as suicide bombings."
The government said Kandic began as early as 2005 to express a desire to travel to Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East to fight U.S. forces in martyrdom missions.
"By late 2013, the defendant began trying to realize those objectives," prosecutors wrote.
Authorities said Kandic recruited individuals from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere to travel to Syria and Iraq and join the group’s battles. They said he told an associate online that he worked in Turkey in the "ISIL border office" as part of a team that conducted background checks of foreign fighters who wanted to go to Syria.
In court filings unsealed Nov. 1, prosecutors said Kandic’s voice was captured in a recorded voice memo to an associate saying he had sent over 20,000 fighters to a region that included Syria.
Prosecutors said Kandic disseminated terrorism propaganda through over 100 Twitter accounts.