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Old 03-05-2017, 06:46 AM
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Default Bumbling wannabe jihadi tried to join ISIS in Syria: feds


Bumbling wannabe jihadi tried to join ISIS in Syria: feds
By Kathianne Boniello and Shawn Cohen
March 4, 2017 | 12:36pm | Updated

A Long Island dope who dreamed of engaging in “violent jihad” and even traveled abroad to join ISIS, led the feds to his own doorstep when he started gabbing about his intentions after a recent pot arrest, authorities said Saturday.

Elvis Redzepagic journeyed to Turkey and Jordan in attempts to enter Syria so he could join ISIS and the al-Nusrah Front, a branch of al Qaeda, the US Attorney’s office said the day after the wannabe jihadist was busted at his Commack home.

Redzepagic, 26, who allegedly said he was ready to “strap a bomb and on sacrifice himself for jihad,” was held without bail Saturday after federal prosecutors labeled him a flight risk.

Police said Redzepagic has a rap sheet that goes back about five years , mostly for small time offenses beginning in 2012, when he was arrested for punching a teen in the face and stealing his iPhone in Brookyn. Two years later, he was busted for heroin possession, records show.

And just this February, he was nabbed for pot possession in Suffolk, and turnstile jumping in the Big Apple, officials said.

The Feb 2. weed bust put him on the feds radar, officials said.

“I’m going to leave this country and I’m going to come back with an Army — Islam is coming,” Redzepagic, an American citizen , allegedly told Suffolk police officers after that arrest, according to court papers.

In the weeks that followed, he voluntarily spoke to federal investigators who then got warrants to examine his social media, laptop and cellphone.

His boastful rhetoric didn’t translate to action: despite two trips overseas in an attempt to join terror groups in Syria, Redzepagic was unsuccessful — in part because he didn’t want to endure a two-day trek through the woods after being turned away at a manned checkpoint in 2015, according to a criminal complaint.

In 2016, he tried to enter Syria via Jordan, but was stopped by Jordanian border officials, authorities said.

Redzepagic wanted to join his cousin, whom he believes is a member of al-Nusrah Front, a branch of al Qaeda based in Syria, authorities allege.

But he gave conflicting statements, telling authorities he believed fighting in Syria “was different than committing a terrorist attack in the United States and that he did not want to harm ‘innocent’ people,” according to court documents.

Yet Redzepagic couldn’t explain what made a person “innocent,” said the feds, who said he also voiced admiration for al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.

“Since i got back from turkey from trying to perform Jihad and join Jabhat Al Nusra the cia [sic] has been bothering me,” he wrote in one social media message, adding, “Its [sic] annoying but i out smarted them.”

“I just dont [sic] like this country,” he also griped.

The feds found “numerous” maps of Syria and Turkey on Redzepagic’s computer and cell phone and a filed labeled “nasheed for jihad.” A nasheed is an “inspirational Islamist hymn,” according to the complaint.

Redzepagic put up a tough-guy front on Facebook, where in 2013 he wrote, “God is my judge,f–k you.”

One time friend Derek Labarbera, 25, admitting doing drugs with Redzepagic in the past.

“Once when we were smoking weed he said, ‘I am a terrorist, I am a terrorists N—a,’ So I thought it was a big joke because he said, ‘n—a’ after it. He was on drugs. I didn’t think he was serious,” said Labarbera, who is now sober.

The case is in its early stages, said Redzepagic’s lawyer, Mildred Whalen, who called Redzepagic “a very troubled young man with a terrible drug problem and possibly a mental problem. He never meant to hurt anyone.”

She said Redzepagic is “fully cooperating” with authorities.
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