Jury selected in trial of BG man accused of joining ISIS

Published 2:31 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

By Justin Story, Bowling Green Daily News

Three years after he was indicted by a grand jury and eight years after a criminal complaint was filed to open the case, a jury has been seated in the trial of a Bowling Green man accused of leaving the country to train and fight with ISIS.

Mirsad Ramic, 34, is on trial in U.S. District Court on charges of providing material support and resource to ISIS, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and receiving military-type training from a designated terrorist organization.

A jury of eight women and six men was selected early Tuesday afternoon from a pool of dozens of potential jurors from multiple southcentral Kentucky counties who received and answered mailed questionnaires concerning their ability to serve on the jury.

A total of 58 prospective jurors gathered in the courtroom Tuesday morning to answer a series of questions from U.S. District Court Chief Judge Greg Stivers that focused on whether they would be able to consider the evidence presented in the trial without bias.

After a group of prospective jurors were excused for various reasons, the field was winnowed down to 32, from which 14 jurors, including two alternates, were selected at random to hear the case.

During a recess early in the proceedings, federal public defender Scott Wendelsdorf informed the court that Ramic objected to the jury panel, arguing that it did not reflect Ramic’s ethnicity or religious preference.

Born in Bosnia, Ramic is a naturalized citizen with dual American and Bosnian citizenship and is a practicing Muslim.

Prior to Ramic’s objection, potential jurors were asked by Stivers during the selection process if they had any prior experiences with the Bosnian or Muslim communities that would prevent them from considering the evidence fairly, and no one responded.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Judd argued that the jury selection process was fair and consistent with the court’s practice in previous trials, and Stivers overruled the objection from Ramic.

Federal prosecutors allege that Ramic was radicalized and conspired with two Saudi nationals who were Western Kentucky University students in 2014 to travel to Syria to join ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Ramic is accused of flying to Turkey, and instead of continuing on a flight destined for Sarajevo, Bosnia, paid cash for a plane ticket to a Turkish border city, from where he smuggled himself into Syria and trained with ISIS until 2015.

Two weeks have been set aside for the trial, though attorneys indicated Tuesday that all the proof could be presented by early next week.

During the jury selection process, Judd read from a list of potential prosecution witnesses that consisted largely of current and former FBI agents from bureaus in multiple cities.

The charges against Ramic carry a combined statutory maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.