Attorneys in ISIS terror case want new trial date

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

By Justin Story, Bowling Green Daily News

The trial date for a Bowling Green man accused of traveling to Syria to join ISIS may be pushed back several months.

Federal prosecutors, along with the attorney for Mirsad Ramic, indicated Monday during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green that more time would be needed for them to prepare for Ramic’s trial, which is currently set to begin Jan. 9.

Ramic, 33, is under indictment on charges of providing material support and resources to ISIS, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and receiving military-type training from a designated terrorist organization.

Ramic is accused of conspiring with a number of unnamed individuals to fly from the U.S. to Turkey in 2014 and then surreptitiously cross the Turkish border into Syria, where he allegedly joined the terror group and participated in training exercises.

According to court records, Ramic returned to Turkey in 2015, where he was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for terror-related offenses there before being deported to the U.S. in 2021 to face his current criminal charges.

In court on Monday, Ramic’s attorney, federal public defender Scott Wendelsdorf, said both sides have worked hard to get the case ready for trial, but that a joint motion for a new trial date will likely be filed by attorneys on both sides.

“There are just so many issues to be resolved that we just do not have the time to prepare and make sure the defendant has a full and fair trial,” Wendelsdorf said.

Attorney Jessica Fender, a prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, agreed, saying that work was ongoing to go through a large amount of evidence that includes classified documents requiring declassification in order to share with the defense.

Fender said that federal prosecutors have extended two offers to Ramic and his attorney to resolve the case with a guilty plea, but they have been rejected, with the more recent offer expiring in August.

“As of today, there is no open plea offer,” Fender said.

Wendelsdorf said that Ramic has raised the issue with him about filing motions on his own behalf rather than go through his attorney, and requested on Monday that U.S. District Court Chief Judge Greg Stivers grant Ramic leave to file his own motions.

A number of motions filed by Wendelsdorf that request dismissal of the criminal case on various grounds are pending, as is a motion to move the trial to federal court in Minneapolis.

Stivers said he was reluctant to grant Ramic permission to file motions on his own behalf if they concerned issues and arguments that lacked legal merit.

“I’m not inclined to allow Mr. Ramic to start a waterfall of his own personal beliefs on legal questions that his attorney doesn’t feel merit a good faith argument,” Stivers said.

As this issue was being discussed, Ramic requested permission to speak.

“The issue does not have to do with whether the arguments have merit, the issue is about ethics,” Ramic said.

Stivers reiterated that he was interested in considering only motions with legal merit.