According to a statement by the Department of Justice, an indictment was unsealed on Tuesday accusing Mirsad Kandic, 36, a legal permanent resident who left the United States in 2013, with one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) resulting in death, and five counts of providing and attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, including personnel, equipment and false documentation and identification, including one count resulting in death. Kandic was extradited to the United States from Bosnia-Herzegovina. He served ISIS as a propagandist and recruiter.

Wearing a T-shirt and sneakers, Kandic pleaded guilty through his court-appointed lawyer, James Branden. Bail was denied. Prosecutor Saritha Komatireddy told Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes that Kandic, "...has, for three years now, been operating as an ISIS logistician and facilitator" who looked to help bring aboard foreign fighters to ISIS. She noted he had fake IDs and multiple aliases.

After the Nov. 13, 2015, terror attacks in France that killed 130 people -- including 83 at a Paris rock concert — Kandic is alleged to have tweeted "America in fear! The NYPD have said they will have more officers on the streets in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris this evening."

“As part of his support for ISIS, the defendant traveled overseas and, while abroad, recruited and facilitated the travel of foreign fighters to join the terrorist organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana J. Boente.  “The National Security Division will continue to use all its tools to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters and bring to justice those who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations.”

“As alleged, defendant Kandic abandoned the United States, his adopted country, and joined ISIS, a violent terrorist organization opposed to the U.S. and its interests,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde.  “From Turkey, he proceeded to recruit others to join ISIS, swelling their ranks and helping them commit terrorist acts such as suicide bombings.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to prosecute ISIS members, as well as other terrorists, to the fullest extent of the law.” 

“As alleged, at the same time Kandic lived freely among us in New York, he expressed a desire to travel overseas to kill or maim U.S. military forces,” stated Assistant Director in Charge Sweeney.   “Kandic eventually put his desire in action when he traveled to Turkey to join ISIS, and from there he set about recruiting others, including Jake Bilardi, to support his cause.  Just prior to Bilardi successfully detonating a suicide bomb in Ramadi, Kandic told Bilardi he hoped Bilardi’s victims’ organs would ‘implode,’ and just after the attack, Kandic publicized it on Twitter.  Kandic is now back in New York, no longer living freely among us, but rather in federal custody to face justice. ”

Kandic is alleged to have express a desire to travel oversea and wage "jihad" against the United States and thus achieve Muslim martyrdom. In December 2013, Kandic traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, and joined ISIS.  From there, Kandic recruited individuals from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and elsewhere, to travel to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq and serve as combatants. In online communications with an associate, Kandic stated he worked in ISIS’s Border Office in Turkey and was part of a team that conducted background checks of foreign fighters seeking to join ISIS in Syria.

Kandic told associates that he traveled to and from ISIS-controlled territory, including Raqqa, Syria, in connection with his work with ISIS.  In a recorded voice memo from Kandic to an associate, Kandic stated, “I have a lot of Mujahideen in Europe, a lot,” and “I sent out over 20,000 brothers . . . to Sham.”

“Mujahideen” refers to Muslim combatants.  “Sham” is frequently used by ISIS members to refer to the region of the Levant, including Lebanon and Syria.

One of the individuals Kandic assisted was Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old Australian citizen who traveled from Melbourne, Australia, to Istanbul, Turkey, in August 2014.  A few days before Bilardi flew to Turkey, Kandic sent Twitter messages instructing Bilardi to stand in a particular section of an airport in Istanbul.  Kandic informed Bilardi that he would send someone to meet him there.

From Turkey, Bilardi traveled to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq.  Kandic continued to communicate with Bilardi and encouraged him to follow through with his plan to commit a suicide attack in Iraq.  In early March 2015, Bilardi informed Kandic via Twitter that he “just went to look at my target today for my operation.”  Kandic replied, “May Allah reward you immensely.”  Kandic later added: “May Allah make there [sic] inner organs implode.”  On March 11, 2015, Bilardi committed a suicide bombing in Ramadi, Iraq.  Kandic publicized the attack via Twitter.   

Kandic also worked to further ISIS’s media and propaganda operations.  Kandic set up and used over 100 Twitter accounts to provide updates about ISIS attacks and territorial gains, which announcements were close in time to when the events occurred. 

If convicted, Kandic faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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