After spending four years in a federal lock-up fighting terrorism charges, a mother of four children from west suburban Schiller Park has pleaded guilty.
Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 38, now admits she was part of a small group of Bosnian immigrants in Illinois, New York and Missouri who bought tactical gear from surplus stores and sent it overseas along with money and other supplies to ISIS fighters. She was among six people aligned with Abdullah Ramo Pazara, also a Bosnian immigrant, who lived in St. Louis before traveling in 2013 to Syria to join Islamic radicals.
Salkicevic was arrested in Schiller Park in February 2015 and held in St. Louis where the case was being prosecuted. She was working for an air cargo company at Chicago O'Hare Airport when she was taken into custody. She is the third and latest to plead guilty-leaving just a husband and wife from St. Louis, Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Sedina Unkic Hodzic, to face trial. There are rumblings that one or both of them may be considering plea deals as well to get out from under a meandering prosecution.
Salkicevic herself had a change of plea hearing set for several years ago but the deal apparently fell apart, until last week.
She had previously written a letter to the U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry, begging her to consider the brutal life that she and her family endured during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s.
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Prosecutors say Salkicevic and her co-defendants used coded language on social media in their efforts to support Pazara and other ISIS-linked terrorists. Along with sending money and supplies, they solicited money and help from others, authorities say.
As the I-Team first reported last month, a judge denied Salkicevic motion that her support of ISIS fighter Pazara was legal because they claimed he was a lawful combatant in the Syrian conflict.
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That pre-trial loss was a major blow to the defense theory of the case and likely was a looming reason for the guilty plea. Sentencing for Salkicevic is now set for June 18. Her attorneys are likely to ask for a sentence of time-served and her immediate release. The government may go for additional prison time considering her statements that she once said unbelievers should be buried alive.
Pazara boasted in Facebook messages to his supporters in the U.S. about killing prisoners, attending beheadings and buying a 16-year-old Yazidi slave, prosecutors reported. After becoming a citizen and leaving for Syria, Pazara eventually joined al-Qaida in Iraq, which evolved into the Islamic State, they said.
Salkicevic, a.k.a. Medy Ummuluna and Bosna Mexico, intended to support and provide resources to Pazara, knowing that he and his co-conspirators would use the support and resources in furtherance of their combat against Syrian government forces and others.
Investigators say Salkicevic wanted to "bury unbelievers alive" and bring death to infidels and that all six accused terrorists were followers of Abdullah Ramo Pazara, a Bosnian-American who went to Syria to fight for ISIS. He was killed, but not before allegedly recruiting Salkicevic and others to support his terror campaign.
Schiller Park mom Mediha Medy Salkicevic admits role in terror plot