Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, a 45-year-old immigrant who was living in St. Louis, Missouri, was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sending aid to a known ISIS commander.
Following his release, he’ll also be deported.
A Bloody History
According to Hodzic, the story really began when he was 17 and had to go to war in his country of birth, Bosnia.
After fleeing from his home town, he heard a call for volunteers and joined the war effort with nothing but his jeans and a t-shirt.
Until sympathetic donors supplied them with uniforms and weapons, Hodzic recalled, he was forced to share a gun with others stuck in the same trenches.
Without such aid, he was sure they would’ve lost the war.
Years later, after immigrating to America, Hodzic met Abdullah Ramo Pazara.
Pazara is believed to have converted to Islam after getting divorced and losing his Michigan-based trucking business.
He moved to St. Louis, where Hodzic claimed to have “mentored him from a drug addict to sobriety.” In 2013, Pazara traveled to Zagreb, Croatia.
From there, he made his way to Iraq and joined forces with al-Qaida.
As Al-Qaida evolved into the apocalyptic Islamic State, or ISIS, Pazara was rising in their ranks.
Damning Evidence and a Poor Defense
Assistant US Attorney, Matthew Drake, produced a wealth of evidence showing Pazara boasted of his exploits in Facebook messages to his contacts in St. Louis – Hodzic perhaps chief among them.
Those exploits included the capturing and murder of prisoners, buying a 16-year-old Yazidi slave, and attending ISIS beheadings.
Meanwhile, Hodzic – who Dragan describes as loving Pazara “like a brother” – was rallying support.
With the help of his wife, he raised money to send Pazara, offered tactical advice based on his own experiences, and even taught Pazara how to make silencers.
Hodzic also sent US Army surplus to the ISIS commander, including uniforms, boots, tactical gear, rifle scopes, and range finders.
Despite this, Dragan pleaded for a lighter sentence – asking that the 56 months Hodzic already spent in jail waiting for the trial to be resolved – on the basis he’d “mostly” only sent things like socks.
The ending argument was that Hodzic was tricked into providing what he thought was humanitarian aid to a friend experiencing the same difficulties he once faced in the Bosnian War.
Of course, that’s completely ignoring the fact Drake provided ample evidence showing Pazara openly stated, on more than one occasion, “I am a terrorist” in his messages.
Very few people are supportive of Hodzic’s actions, even fellow Muslim-Americans.
In fact, the Islamic Community of North American Bosniaks released a statement to the effect of “we strongly condemn any activity that promotes extremism and terrorism of any kind.”