A federal jury has convicted a high-ranking ISIS member from Brooklyn on charges stemming from his recruitment of thousands of people from Western countries to fight for the terrorist group in Syria as well as disseminating propaganda and other related actions.
The Brooklyn jury found Mirsad Kandic, 40, guilty of one count of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS and five substantive counts of providing the terrorist organization with support in the form of personnel as well as services, weapons, property, equipment and false documentation and identification.
The three-week trial included 36 witnesses and evidence from across the globe that showed he was a high-ranking member of the terrorist organization with wide-ranging responsibilities from recruiting new fighters to being a member of its propaganda arm.
The Justice Department described Kandic in a release as a “prolific recruiter of foreign fighters” who sent “thousands of radicalized ISIS volunteer fighters from Western countries into ISIS-controlled territories in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Among those he recruited was a fellow New Yorker who became an ISIS sniper and trainer and a Australian teenager named Jake Bilardi who committed a suicide attack on March 11, 2015, in Ramadi, Iraq, killing himself and 30 Iraqi soldiers and an Iraqi police officer.
Prosecutors said Bilardi had contacted Kandic in June 2014 asking for help to join ISIS and received instructions to travel to Istanbul, Turkey. From there, Kandic had Bilardi smuggled into Syria.
Kandic was convicted of also providing ISIS battlefield fighters and commanders, including Bajro Ikanovic, who U.S. officials said commanded an ISIS training camp in Syria, with intelligence and maps as well as conspired to dig tunnels under the Turkey-Syria border to move upwards of 1,000 fighters into ISIS’ ranks at a time.
“Kandic helped to build a secret supply chain of willing fighters for ISIS, recruiting them over social media and ensuring their illegal transit into Syria so they could wage war,” Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said in a statement. “He played a vital role in the terrorist group’s communications network allowing ISIS to maintain its stranglehold on territory within Syria, and propagating ISIS fighters around the world to plot attacks.”
He also managed money for ISIS fighters in Syria and smuggled weapons into the country.
The prosecution said Kandic arrived in Syria at the end of 2013 after multiple tries to leave the United States.
According to court documents, Kandic first tried to leave the United States to join ISIS in the summer of 2012 but he was denied boarding a plane at a U.S. point of departure as he was on a no-fly list. In January 2013, he was turned away for the same reason for a flight from Toronto, Canada, to Istanbul.
In November that same year, he then resorted to taking a two-day bus trip from New York City to Mexico from where he flew through Panama, Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Kosovo and Turkey before making it to Syria.
Kandic, who was arrested in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in June 2017, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
“Kandic was a high-ranking member of ISIS who recruited countless fanatics, helping them travel to Syria and other territories to become ISIS fighters,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “In addition to fueling the front lines of the ISIS army, the defendant aided the extremist group in many other ways, including by providing weapons and spreading its violent propaganda across the globe, to further its bloody and brutal terrorist campaign.