MANILA, Philippines – Filipino orthopedic doctor Russel Salic, a suspect in a foiled New York terror plot, is denying allegations that he has links to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS). He told investigators the money he sent abroad was for charity.
The US is accusing him of funding a jihadist plot in New York by sending $423 or about P21,650* for the purchase of bombmaking materials. He was also charged in the Philippines for the kidnapping and beheading of sawmill workers in Lanao del Sur, an allegation he denied.
Rappler spoke with government investigator Abdul Jamal Dimaporo, the chief of the National Bureau of Investigation in Iligan City to whom Salic surrendered in April 2017 during a crackdown on suspected extremists in Marawi City.
Dimaporo said Salic is claiming the money he sent abroad is for charity, saying he was not aware the recipients used it to fund a planned attack in New York. The Philippine military is dismissing his “alibi.”
“Ang sabi niya sa kin, ‘yung money na naipadala niya ay ‘yung parang kawanggawa lang na asking for donation, for missionary’s work. So ‘yun ang alam ko (Based on what he told me, the money he sent abroad was for charity. Someone asked for a donation, for missionary work. That’s what I know),” Dimaporo told Rappler in a phone interview Saturday, October 7.
Salic is known to many Marawi residents as a doctor at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, one of the biggest hospitals in the region. (READ: Filipino charged for NY terror plot is doctor from Marawi)
Dimaporo said the suspect is cooperating with US and Philippine authorities investigating his involvement in terror plots in various countries.
The military is dismissing Salic’s alibi. Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año said Salic also funded other terror activities abroad. Foreign intelligence services helped the Philippines monitor his activities.
“That is his alibi, but all along he has been very much aware that he was in the network of providing providing funds to extremists,” Año said.
Outside the Philippines, Año said Salic’s network includes extremists in the US, Middle East and Malaysia.
The beheading of Filipino sawmill workers last year was perpetrated by the Maute Group, the same group behind the attack in Marawi City that resulted in a war that continues to ravage the city in southern Philippines. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P51.18