Philippines Prepares to Extradite Filipino Suspect in Foiled 2016 NYC Terror Plot

Felipe Villamor
171008-MARAWI-620.JPG Philippine troops stand near the center of fighting in the southern city of Marawi, Sept. 17, 2017.
Jeoffrey Maitem/BenarNews

A Filipino doctor charged in a foiled New York City terror plot is a known supporter of Islamic State-backed militants who have taken over the southern Philippine city of Marawi, officials said Sunday, as the government prepared legal proceedings seeking his extradition to the United States.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Russel Salic, an orthopedic surgeon, was “undergoing preliminary investigation before the Department of Justice over kidnapping and murder charges” that were unrelated to the New York plot.

U.S. authorities have sought the extradition of Salic, who is accused of plotting terror attacks in New York City.

Philippine officials said Salic was a well-known physician who aided the Maute group, a ragtag band of militants fighting alongside Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of one of the factions of Abu Sayyaf and the acknowledged local chief of the Islamic State (IS).

“The Philippines shares information and extends full cooperation with partners on matters pertaining to terrorism, and in the case of Dr. Salic, will include initiating extradition proceedings being requested by the United States,” Abella said.

“The preliminary investigation of the case against Mr. Salic will continue while extradition proceedings are being processed,” he said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Salic has been in custody since April, and will only be extradited once the investigations here are completed.

"It only means that we have to begin the extradition proceedings being requested by the US. We have a process to be followed and this has been done many times in the past,” Aguirre said.

Salic was one of three foreigners named by the American government as having allegedly plotted to carry out attacks in New York City in summer last year.

Salic (alias Abu Khalid) allegedly wired $500 to an undercover agent in the United States to help fund the planned attacks.

Authorities said the thwarted attacks were to be carried out by the suspects in the name of the Islamic State during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan last year.

The plot was foiled when an undercover FBI agent posed as an IS supporter and communicated with the three suspects through electronic messaging apps accessible on cellphones.

U.S. court documents said the Filipino doctor, who allegedly maintained an active pro-militant social media presence, also conveyed that he had previously sent money to other countries in support of IS.

Salic is separately facing charges of kidnapping and murder filed by five residents of southern Iligan city, north of Marawi.

Two other people were also abducted by the armed men and beheaded six days later by the Maute group, and Salic has been named as one of the masterminds or leaders of the group.

Salic is a known associate of Cayamora and Farhana Maute, the parents of the Maute brothers who are involved in the Marawi siege. The two were earlier arrested and Cayamora, the father, recently passed away in prison due to natural causes.

At least 765 militants and 155 soldiers and policemen and 47 civilians have been killed since May 23, when the militants launched their daring siege of Marawi.


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