via Allegations of St. Louis terrorism support rooted back in Bosnian War. h/t Money Jihad
In one picture, Ramo Pazara is the picture of casual cool.
He straddles a gleaming Suzuki motorcycle, wearing torn jeans, a long-sleeved black T-shirt and a necklace. He sports a scruff of hair on his chin, and his collar-length blond hair is tucked beneath a black stingy-brim hat.
But something changed. Dramatically. After his marriage and trucking business in Michigan both failed, Pazara cut his hair short and grew his beard long. He began wearing a white Arabic-style thawb and head covering, and moved to St. Louis.
After 17 months here, in 2013, Pazara left to fight in Syria, where he reportedly would rise to be a deputy to a top commander of the murderous, apocalyptic Islamic State terrorist group.
He was one among a tiny number of Americans fighting with extremists in Syria, perhaps a dozen by one FBI estimate in September.
What Pazara did is the linchpin of a federal criminal case here that led in February to the arrest of six people — three of them current or former St. Louis-area residents — on charges of supporting overseas terrorists.
The indictments claim they knowingly provided funds for Pazara and others in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere who engaged in violence “with and in support of” the Islamic State group, al-Qaida in Iraq and the Nusra Front.
Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic, a married couple living in south St. Louis County, also bought uniforms, rifle scopes and other gear, the indictments say. Nihad Rosic, of Utica, N.Y., allegedly was stopped on his way to Syria.
It is unclear what motivated Pazara, believed to have died last fall in Syria at age 37 or 38. His Facebook postings from overseas are gone. Friends, relatives and employers won’t talk. Court hearings for the others revealed little.
The Bosnian news magazine Slobodna Bosna reported after the charges that Pazara, who they dubbed an “Islamic fanatic,” briefly fought for the Serbs in the war before coming to the U.S.
His deep past is murky. He pops up in available records in 2003, living in an apartment just north of Detroit. He registered a company called R&A Express Trucking, and with his then-wife, Amela Pazara, bought a small brick house.
The company made just $10,000 in 2006, and $4,000 in 2007, records show. The couple divorced and lost the house. Pazara filed for bankruptcy in 2008, listing more than $36,000 in debts. He claimed his only income was money from his family, and that his ex-wife was taking over the company.
Pazara spent some time in New York, where he has relatives. On Dec. 15, 2011, he rented a one-bedroom, $520-a-month apartment in the Oakbrook Gardens complex in south St. Louis County. By then, his beard was long, and his clothing ethnic.
Lisa Albert, Oakbrook’s former manager, said Pazara was late several times with his rent but “always very, very friendly.” She added, “You never would have suspected anything.”
She said the news about him “gave me chills.”
A former Oakbrook maintenance worker, Izet Fejzic, said Pazara stood out because of his clothing. Fejzic, also Bosnian, speculated that Pazara might have fallen for a pitch from foreigners who fought for Bosnians during their war, something like: “We helped you guys, now you have to help us.” Or, he said, Pazara might have gone to help a different group and ended up on the wrong side.
Pazara left Oakbrook at the end of April 2012. It’s not clear where he stayed then.
CITIZENSHIP TO SLAUGHTER
On May 17, 2013, Pazara became a U.S. citizen and changed his name to Abdullah Ramo Pazara. Yara Holt, who also became a citizen that day, remembered Pazara as someone who came alone, was perhaps the only one who didn’t get a picture with the judge and “kind of took his certificate and ran.”
Eleven days later, according to the indictment, Pazara traveled to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina before arriving in Syria that July.
According to court testimony, Pazara posted Facebook pictures of himself in military clothing, holding a rifle in front of the black flag associated with Islamic State.
Authorities began tracking him, using social media along with wiretaps, search warrants and other tactics authorized by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court process.
The indictments claim that on March 20, 2014, Pazara told an unidentified person about a mission in which he and others killed 11 people and captured one, whom they intended to “slaughter” the next day. Pazara also allegedly said Islamic State was “spreading every day.”
Media reports say that at the time Pazara died, he was a deputy to Omar al-Shishani, one of Islamic State’s top commanders.
The FBI briefed some St. Louis-area Muslim leaders shortly after the arrests. Agents claimed that some images from an infamous Islamic State massacre of Iraqi soldiers were traced to Pazara, indicating he was there, Imdad said.
“That was pretty alerting — shocking to me that he was standing right there … as the massacre was happening,” Imdad said.
Hayat said she left the briefing with the impression that Pazara was the leader of the group that included the Hodzics and that there was a recent “ideological” change in Pazara and the Hodzics.
The FBI declined to comment about the briefing.
The indictment claims Hodzic was a conduit for money and supplies to Pazara and others.
The FBI should be arresting Muslim leaders and briefing everyone else. Not working with those who share the same ideology, preach jihad, recruit and fund jihadists.
Read it all for more on the Six Bosnian Muslim immigrants in U.S. charged with supporting Islamic State terrorists.
Also read this Twitter exchange on the now dead jihadi.
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