MANILA – The Philippine government will comply with a United States request for the extradition of Russel Salic
, a Cagayan de Oro-based orthopedic doctor allegedly involved in terror plots in New York, but will continue in the meantime its own prosecution process for crimes for which Salic is charged in the country, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Sunday.
Sought for comment on the unsealing by the US Justice department of its report on the undercover operations that allowed FBI agents to establish the role in terror plots of Salic and two other foreigners, Aguirre said: “It only means that we have to begin the extradition proceedings being requested. We have a process to be followed and this has been done many times in the past.”
Even as the extradition is being processed, added Aguirre, the preliminary investigation “in the meantime will continue.” He was referring to the PI begun in August 2017 by his department, in connection with Salic’s role in the abduction and killing of sawmill workers in April 2016 in Iligan City in the South. Two of those seized were beheaded by Salic’s followers, but five survived, and filed the charges against Salic.
Salic, 37, was linked to the Maute brothers’ group, which laid siege to Marawi City on May 23, 2017, and continues to hold on to a tiny section of the city despite relentless air and artillery attacks by government troops.
The Maute brothers are described as “ISIS-inspired,” having teamed up in the Marawi operations with the Abu Sayyaf unit of Isnilon Hapilon, tagged as the “emir” of ISIS for Southeast Asia.
Besides Salic, the US DOJ had concluded that a Canadian and a US citizen in Pakistan were plotting to carry out bomb attacks in New York during Ramadan in 2016.
An undercover FBI agent had engaged the three alleged plotters separately and the attack — allegedly to detonate bombs in New York’s Times Square and subway, and shoot civilians at concerts – was thwarted, news reports quoted US authorities saying.
The undercover FBI agent tracked Salic’s wiring of money abroad for the attacks.
Reports had said Salic was affiliated with the the Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro.
To jihadists, he was “Abu Khalid” and “The Doctor.”