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Filipino terror suspect to be extradited to US

Russell Langi Salic plotting mass shootings in New York [AP]

Date of publication: 28 July, 2018

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A Philippine court accepted a US government request for the extradition of Russell Langi Salic, a Filipino doctor who is suspected of being an IS supporter.

A Philippine court on Friday granted a US government request for the extradition of a Filipino doctor suspected by US authorities of being an Islamic State group sympathiser and plotting bombings and shootings at New York City concert venues, subway stations and Times Square.

Presiding Judge Rosalyn Mislos-Loja granted the US request in a July 23 ruling and ordered Russell Langi Salic to be extradited to the US to face the charges. Salic, who is detained in Manila, has denied the charges, opposed his extradition and can appeal.

In the 33-page decision, Mislos-Loja ordered the seizure and surrender to US authorities of all items, documents and evidence connected with the offences for which Salic is charged in the US, including cellphones, computers and documents.

Last year, US prosecutors said Salic was one of three IS group sympathisers who plotted bombings and shootings in 2016 in New York before US agents thwarted the plot.

Salic was taken into custody in Manila last year. Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy was arrested in the US in 2016 and has pleaded guilty, and an American of Pakistani origin, Talha Haroon, was arrested in Pakistan in the same year.

Salic is alleged to have sent about $423 from the Philippines in May 2016 to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Islamic extremist to help fund the planned attacks. Salic told the agent he intended to continue sending money in support of the IS group, according to court documents that have been made public in New York.

The documents said Salic, who used the alias Abu Khalid, allegedly told the agent his ultimate goal was to join the IS group in Syria but that "it would be a great pleasure if we can slaughter" people in New York.

Transaction records obtained by the FBI show that in addition to the $423, Salic allegedly made multiple money transfers in 2015 and 2016 in support of the IS group ranging from $180 to $435 to Australia, Lebanon, Malaysia and Palestine. He also sent money twice to Bosnia in April 2016, according to US court documents.

The funds were sent through an international money transfer agency in southern Cagayan de Oro city, the records show. Salic had worked as a doctor in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro.

Salic told reporters after a Manila court hearing last November that US authorities may have mistaken money he sent to a charity as funding for the plots. An FBI agent who posed as a Muslim online was behind the allegations against him, he said.

The US government sent an extradition request in May last year. The Philippine government, through the Department of Justice, filed the request with a Manila court on behalf of the US in September as specified under an extradition treaty.

Aside from the US charges, Salic also faces separate criminal complaints for alleged involvement in the abduction of six sawmill workers, two of whom were later beheaded, in the southern Philippine town of Butig in Lanao del Sur province in 2016, an allegation that he has denied.

Salic, who is detained at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila, could face either the US or Philippine case first depending on the decision of Filipino authorities, justice department officials said.

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