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Long Island man arrested for trying to join ISIS in Syria

LONG ISLAND — A Long Island man was arrested for allegedly traveling to the Middle East, attempting to join the Islamic State or al-Nusra Front extremist groups and telling authorities was preparing to sacrifice himself for jihad.

Elvis Redzepagic, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen, is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Redzepagic communicated with someone he thought was an extremist fighter in Syria, then traveled to Turkey in July 2015 and repeatedly tried to cross the border, prosecutors said.

He then traveled to Jordan last August.

Documents released by the U.S. Department of Justice show Redzepagic was in contact with an ISIS recruit and traveled to Adana, Turkey, in 2015 where he made several unsuccessful attempts to cross the border into Syria. After becoming frustrated, Redzepagic returned to the U.S.

He told FBI officials that he was planning to enter Syria to “engage in jihad,” and that he was “prepared to strap a bomb on and sacrifice [himself] for jihad.”

Redzepagic also sent Facebook messages about his trip to Turkey, and said that’s where he tried “to perform jhad” and that since his return to the U.S., “the cia [sic] has been bothering me.”

When Redzepagic returned from Jordan in August 2016, government officials questioned him at JFK Airport and found documents on his computer with titles related to jihad and “Commanders of the Muslim Army.”

Redzepagic’s lawyer told the Associated Press “what he [Redzepagic] needs is counseling and support, not imprisonment.”

Attorney Mildred Whalen notes that the case against Redzepagic is in early stages, but she says that he’s an American citizen and that he’s been fully cooperative with law enforcement.

Redzepagic is being held without bail after appearing in a Brooklyn federal court Saturday.