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Final defendant in ISIS terror funding scheme gets 4 years in US prison

FBI agents search the home of Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, in St. Louis County, Mo., on Feb. 6, 2015. (Cristina Fletes-Boutte/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

A St. Louis County woman was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison for helping to supply money and equipment to a man who fought and died in Syria for the Islamic State. Sedina Hodzic also will be deported back to Bosnia when she is released from prison.

Hodzic was one of five defendants from the St. Louis area and elsewhere indicted in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in 2015. All have pleaded guilty and admitted helping Ramiz Hodzic, Sedina Hodzic’s husband, send money, military uniforms, rifle scopes and other equipment to Abdullah Ramo Pazara and others overseas. Pazara, who is originally from Bosnia like his co-defendants, lived in St. Louis County, became a U.S. citizen and then left in 2013 for Syria, where he rose to become an ISIS commander. Prosecutors have said he boasted of murder, beheadings and enslavement while there. He died in September 2014.

In 2019, Sedina Hodzic pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge involving supplying material support or resources to those seeking to kill others in foreign countries.

In the court hearing Tuesday, held by Zoom, Sedina Hodzic said, “I know that what I did was wrong and illegal and I really want the court to know how very sorry I am.”

“There is nothing in the world that I wouldn’t do just to take it back,” she said.

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The recommended sentence for the charge was 15 years in prison, but Hodzic lawyer Kim Freter asked for “as much mercy as possible,” citing the deportation and the potential for separation from Hodzic’s children, who are U.S. citizens. She also said that Hodzic suffered during her teenage years when her town was bombed during the Bosnian war and cut off from food and electricity.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry said that the guidelines for the crime were too harsh for someone with no prior criminal convictions. Perry also said that Hodzic was remorseful and facing other serious consequences in the case.

Ramiz Hodzic, 46, and Nihad Rosic, 32, of Utica, N.Y., are each serving eight-year sentences. Rosic was blocked twice from traveling to Syria to fight by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Armin Harcevic, 42, formerly of St. Louis County, is currently serving a 5 1/2-year sentence. Jasminka Ramic, 48, of Rockford, Illinois, pleaded guilty in 2015, the same year the group was charged, was sentenced to three years in prison, and has already been released. Mediha Medy Salkicevic, of Schiller Park, Illinois, 40, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and was released in August.

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(c) 2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC