A 26-year-old American citizen from Long Island, NY, who twice allegedly attempted to travel to Syria join the Islamic State’s (ISIS/ISIL) and its rival al-Qaeda’s jihad, threatened to behead his mother, prosecutors have revealed.
Now called the Fatah al-Sham Front, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front is also known as Jabhat al-Nusra. In a statement, William Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI New York field office, said:
As we alleged, [the defendant] Elvis Redzepagic was persistent in his efforts to travel overseas to “perform jihad” as he said in social media posts [Facebook]. Traveling not once, but twice to the Middle East where he attempted to join ISIS or al-Nusrah Front in 2015 and 2016.
Angel Melendez, the special-agent-in-charge of the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in New York City, added: “Redzepagic, a U.S. citizen living in Long Island, made multiple attempts to join ISIS or al-Nusrah Front in Syria where he wanted to engage in violent jihad, which could have resulted in the death of countless individuals.”
ICE is a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
During a brief bail hearing Monday, Brooklyn Federal Judge Robert Levy reportedly ordered Elvis Redzepagic be held without bail after he was charged Saturday with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate.
The Associated Press (AP) reports:
In a memorandum opposing bail, federal prosecutors said that over the past month Redzepagic engaged in actions reflecting he was a danger to the community, himself, his family and law enforcement authorities. They said his family made two 911 calls to police and that “just last week, the defendant was removed from his home after attempting to cut his tattoos off with a knife and threatening to behead his mother.”
After he was arrested on the terrorism charge on Friday, prosecutors said, he told one of the officers, “I really feel like stabbing you right now.”
According to a court complaint unsealed on March 4, Redzepagic, “together with others,” attempted to provide material support to ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate.
“Based on Redzepagic’s statements to law enforcement officers, social media message, and other independent evidence, Redzepagic traveled to the Middle East to attempt to join ISIS or al-Nusrah Front,” also notes the complaint.
On or around October 14, 2015, the defendant allegedly sent a Facebook message to another individual indicating: “I just don’t like this country.”
“There [will] come a time [when] people will only know to say Allahu Akbar,” he also wrote, adding, ”Jihad is the best for [you]… trust me… those that die for the sake of Allah get to be green birds under Allah’s… throne.”
Redzepagic also claimed that his cousin was a commander of an ISIS or al-Qaeda-linked battalion in Syria.
The court document adds that, during interviews with federal law enforcement in early February 2017, the defendant revealed that he “became a devout Muslim while in Montenegro,” located in the Balkans.
Redzepagic told federal investigators that he attempted “to enter Syria to engage in jihad, which Redzepagic stated could take many forms beyond simply active warfare or violence,” reveals the complaint.
The defendant “further stated that, at the time he attempted to enter Syria from Turkey, he was prepared to strap a bomb on and sacrifice himself for jihad,” it continues.
Redzepagic traveled to Turkey in July 2015 with the intention to enter Syria but eventually returned to the United States.
Prosecutors added that he made a second unsuccessful attempt to enter war-ravaged Syria through Jordan the following year.
On February 2, New York’s Suffolk County police arrested Redzepagic on possession of marijuana charges.
“Federal authorities said that after his release on those charges he cooperated with an investigation into his travels,” notes AP.