A FILIPINO suspect in a thwarted terrorist plot to launch attacks on New York’s subway and Times Square will face legal proceedings seeking his extradition to the United States, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Sunday.
Russell Salic and two others have been charged with involvement in the plan to carry out the attacks in the name of the Islamic State group during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2016.
Salic was arrested in the Philippines in April 2017 and the US had requested his extradition, the US Department of Justice said.
“It only means that we have to begin the extradition proceedings being requested,” Aguirre said in a statement without giving a timeframe.
“We have a process to be followed and this has been done many times in the past.”
Aguirre said Salic was also under investigation over a local case.
Armed Forces chief General Eduardo Año said on Sunday that Salic was in the custody of the country’s National Bureau of Investigation.
Salic, a 37-year-old Filipino doctor, transferred $423 in May 2016 to the other suspects for the operation, US court documents released Friday showed.
Multiple locations including New York’s subway, Times Square and some concert venues were identified as targets in the plot that was foiled by an undercover FBI agent, US authorities announced Friday.
The agent posed as an IS supporter and communicated with Salic and his two alleged accomplices: Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, a 19-year-old Canadian who purchased bomb-making materials, and Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old American citizen living in Pakistan.
A complaint signed by the agent quoted messages sent by Salic to others involved in the plot in which he described terror laws in the Philippines as “not strict” in comparison to countries such as Australia and the UK.
Salic was an orthopaedic surgeon associated with a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City, the complaint said.
On Sunday Año said Salic sent funds to other nations for the “IS terrorist network.”
“He is providing financial support to several extremists or suspicious terrorists in the Middle East, in the US, Malaysia,” Año told reporters.
“He was very active on social media, websites that groups related to ISIS have been using,” Año said using another name for IS.
Año said Salic was not related to former Marawi mayor Fahad Salic, who was arrested in June on charges of rebellion in another part of Mindanao.
Armed militants flying the black IS flag have been besieging the southern city of Marawi since May, leaving more than 950 people dead.
The fighting, which is still raging despite artillery and air strikes and US military assistance, has left the once-thriving city in ruins with thousands of civilians displaced.
Aguirre said the Justice department would study its options on how to process Salic, since he also faces criminal charges here for kidnapping and murder.
The charges were filed against him by five Iligan City residents identified as Gabriel Tomatao Permitis, Alfredo Sarsalejo Cano-os, Esperanza Permitis, Adonis Antipisto Mendez, and Julito Permitis Janubas over the incident in April 2016.
Two other people, identified as Jaymart Capangpangan and Salvador Janubas, were also abducted by the armed men and beheaded six days later.
The complainants said they were brought to Butig, Lanao del Sur, where they were held by members of the Maute group.
They accused Salic of being the mastermind of the group behind the abduction.
Before the abduction, the group claimed to have seen Salic talking to couple Cayamora and Farhana Maute, who have been charged wth rebellion in connection with the Marawi City siege.