CHICAGO – A federal judge refused Tuesday to release an Illinois woman charged with aiding militant groups in Syria and Iraq, siding with prosecutors who described her as potentially dangerous and a flight risk.
Mediha Medy Salkicevic (SAHL'-kay-vich) and five other Bosnian immigrants are accused of sending money and equipment to groups the U.S. has deemed terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State group and Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole ruled that Salkicevic, a 34-year-old mother of four, must remain in custody. That means she won't be able to travel on her own to St. Louis, where the case is being handled, but will instead be escorted by U.S. marshals.
The judge said prosecutors met their burden of proof during a hearing Monday to show she could be dangerous and a flight risk, allegations her attorney denied.
Salkicevic works as a cargo handler at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, which raises security concerns, prosecutor Angel Krull said during the Monday hearing. Krull also said Salkicevic has relatives in Bosnia, including her mother and three sisters, increasing the chances she could flee the U.S.
But defense attorney Andrea Gambino noted that Salkicevic has four children living in the U.S. and argued there was no evidence she posed a threat to anyone.
An indictment unsealed last week in St. Louis alleges that the six suspects plotted by phone, Facebook and email, and sent money using PayPal and Western Union. They also are accused of shipping military gear through the U.S. Postal Service.
Along with Salkicevic, the indictment names Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; Armin Harcevic, 37, of St. Louis County, Missouri; and Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, and his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, also of St. Louis County.
All are charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists and with providing material support to terrorists. Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Rosic are also charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons abroad.
The Hodzics are scheduled to appear in federal court in St. Louis on Wednesday. Sedina Hodzic's attorney, Paul J. D'Agrosa, said in an email that his client will plead not guilty. An attorney for Ramiz Hodzic didn't return a message seeking comment.
There was no attorney listed for Armin Harcevic.
Ramic is overseas, but her daughter told WREX-TV that the allegations are false.