Woman gets 3-year sentence for giving money to terror groups
Jan. 05, 2016
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Bosnian immigrant formerly from Illinois was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for giving money in support of the Islamic State and al-Qaida, despite her attorney's plea that she is by no means a terrorist.
Jasminka Ramic pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. She was sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.
"I did make a mistake," Ramic, 43, told Judge Catherine Perry in broken English. "I admit I did something I was not supposed to do."
Ramic was among six Bosnian immigrants indicted in February for funneling money and military supplies for use by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Her attorney, J. Christian Goeke, said Ramic was no more than a bit player, and her original intention was pure. Goeke said Ramic saw TV footage of the plight of refugees, including children, in Syria and wanted to help.
She connected on Facebook with a man named Abdullah Ramo Pazara, a Bosnian immigrant who left St. Louis in May 2013 for Syria, and sent him $700 in three payments, plus hot chocolate.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Drake said that while Ramic's original motive may have been altruistic, she eventually learned that Pazara had joined the fight of terror groups and continued to support him. He died in battle in September 2014.
"There was evidence that she knew all of this," Drake said.
The judge agreed.
"She's not taking up arms; she's not doing anything like that," Perry said in court. "But she did send money and this is serious."
Ramic became a U.S. citizen in 2006. She lived in Rockford, Illinois, before moving to Germany, where she was arrested. Her husband and children still live there.
The other suspects have pleaded not guilty. Husband and wife Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic live in St. Louis County. Armin Harcevic previously lived in St. Louis County and now lives in California. Also accused are Mediha Medy Salkicevic of Schiller Park, Illinois, and Nihad Rosic of Utica, New York.
U.S. authorities say Ramiz Hodzic used Facebook, PayPal, Western Union and the U.S. Postal Service to coordinate shipments of money and supplies through an overseas intermediary. He and his wife are accused of making 10 wire transfers totaling $8,850, and arranging two shipments of military supplies valued at $2,451.
Sedina Hodzic is accused of aiding one of those transfers and shipping six boxes of military supplies.