Commack Man Gets 17 Years for Trying to Join ISIS

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A member of the Iraqi rapid response forces walks past a wall painted with the black flag commonly used by Islamic State militants, at a hospital damaged by clashes during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in the Wahda district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 8, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

A Commack man was sentenced Friday to nearly 17 years in federal prison for flying to the Middle East in attempts to join ISIS and another terrorist group twice in recent years, federal authorities said.

Elvis Redzepagic had pleaded guilty in April at Central Islip federal court to attempting to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations. U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley sentenced him to 200 months in prison.

“With the imposition of today’s lengthy sentence, Redzepagic pays a steep price for his misguided embrace of terrorism and his attempts to join ISIS and the alNusrah Front in order to wage violent jihad,” said Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Prosecutors said the 30-year-old communicated with an individual he believed to be the commander of a battalion in Syria and a member of ISIS or the al-Nusrah Front in 2015.
In July of that year, he traveled to Turkey and made multiple attempts to cross the border into Syria to join his contact, but he was unable to enter the war-torn country, authorities said. Then, in August 2016, he tried to enter Syria through Jordan, but was stopped and deported by Jordanian authorities.

Investigators found that Redzepagic posted messages on Facebook messages in October 2015 stating that “jihad” is when “you fight for the sake of God” and “die for the sake of Allah,” and said that he traveled to Turkey to “perform Jihad and join Jabhat Al-Nusra,” prosecutors said.

He is one of eight people with Long Island ties implicated in a terror plot since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Bryant Neal Vinas of Patchogue, an al-Qaeda recruit-turned-informant, was released from jail in 2017.

Westbury native Samir Khan, the one-time editor of al-Qaeda’s magazine, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Mohammad Younis of Centereach pleaded guilty in 2011 to unwittingly providing $7,000 to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square Bomber. And  Zoobia Shahnaz of Brentwood, was sentenced last year to 13 years in federal prison for sending more than $150,000 to ISIS.

In addition, fellow Brentwood residents Marcos Alonso Zea and Justin Kaliebe were sentenced in 2016 to 25 years and 13 years in prison, respectively, for trying to join al-Qaeda. And Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, who grew up in Westbury, pledged allegiance to ISIS during the Orlando massacre.

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