A Filipino doctor facing charges of plotting terror attacks in New York City on behalf of the Islamic State will fight extradition to the United States, his lawyer has confirmed.
Russell Salic has denied claims that he helped finance a foiled plot to target concert venues and Times Square, with his lawyer claiming that he donated the money to charity, has never owned a gun, and opposes all forms of terrorism.
“I only donated money for humanitarian consideration out of pity for the needy but I have never thought of giving funds to the ISIS,” his lawyer quoted Salic as saying.
Salic previously worked as an orthopedic surgeon in Marawi City in the Philippines, the site of an ongoing Islamic State attempt to establish a “caliphate.”
On Friday, U.S. prosecutors claimed that Salic tried to fund a foiled jihadist plot in New York City by sending $423 to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic State terrorist. According to court documents, Salic describes how “it would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter” people in New York.
Filipino state prosecutors have also charged Salic with involvement in the abduction and beheading last year of six sawmill workers near Marawi in another ISIS operation.
Salic’s lawyer, Dalomilang Parahiman, has described how his client has a history of good character and humanitarian acts, which include paying a teacher’s salary to prevent children from losing their education and helping a number of different nongovernment groups and people.
Parahiman even showed a Salic’s certificate of good behavior from the mayor of Marawi City, Majul Gandamra, from his work at the Amai Pakpak medical center.
“His sister went to my office to secure a certification for purposes of a clearance for good behavior. He used to work with my wife. She was also a doctor in Amai Pakpak,” Gandamra said.
Since his election last year, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has faced a mounting insurgency from ISIS affiliates like Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, who invaded Marawi this May. Duterte declared martial law on the entire island of Mindanao and demanded his forces “spare no one” in the process.
However, recent reports suggest that Filipino forces are struggling to make significant gains in the Marawi region, as tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee the city amid the conflict.