Someone must have stepped on his blue suede shoes: the Department of Justice reported last Friday that in Central Islip, New York, a young Muslim named Elvis Redzepagic was sentenced to 200 months in prison, that is, sixteen years and eight months, for aiding the Islamic State (ISIS). What no one is asking about this particular Elvis comeback, however, is how it is that a young man in Commack, New York, where Elvis lives, could have gotten the idea that a terrific way to live out his Islamic faith would be to aid Islamic State jihadis. After all, we’re constantly told that all Muslims in the United States are as moderate as the day is long, and that it’s racist and “Islamophobic” to think otherwise. So what happened to young Elvis?
The Justice Department reported that Elvis “was sentenced by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley to 200 months’ imprisonment for attempting to provide material support and resources to the designated foreign terrorist organizations the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the al-NusrahFront. Redzepagic, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to the charge in April 2021.” Predictably, the DOJ said nothing whatsoever about where Elvis learned about Islam, or what his mosque teaches. Maybe he was driven over the edge by too many Presley jokes, but if the Justice Department has any say in the matter, we will never know. To ask such questions is “Islamophobic.”
United States Attorney Breon Peace crowed: “With the imposition of today’s lengthy sentence, Redzepagic pays a steep price for his misguided embrace of terrorism and his attempts to join ISIS and the al-Nusrah Front in order to wage violent jihad.” That’s terrific. But Peace had nothing to say about how exactly Elvis was misguided into embracing what practically every non-Muslim politician in the Western world assures us is a religion of peace that has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. Joe Biden and John Kerry and Pope Francis and a host of other non-Muslims are absolutely, complacently certain that Islam teaches peace and tolerance, and that anyone who suspects otherwise is an “Islamophobe,” to be shunned by all decent people.
So how did this peaceful teaching that is so blazingly obvious to Biden, Kerry, Francis and their ilk elude Elvis Redzepagic, who is, unlike any of them, actually a Muslim?
No one cares. And it isn’t as if they haven’t had time to find out: Elvis has been on the radar of law enforcement officials for over six years now. According to the Justice Department, “in early 2015, Redzepagic began communicating with an individual he believed to be both the commander of a battalion in Syria and a member of ISIS or the al-Nusrah Front, and made attempts to join that individual’s battalion to engage in violent jihad. In July 2015, Redzepagic traveled to Turkey and made multiple unsuccessful attempts to cross the border into Syria. Unable to enter Syria from Turkey, Redzepagic traveled to Jordan in August 2016, but was stopped and deported by Jordanian authorities.”
Young Elvis wasn’t just seeking some thrills and adventure: “In Facebook messages from October 2015, Redzepagic explained that ‘jihad’ is when ‘you fight for the sake of God’ and ‘die for the sake of Allah.’ Redzepagic stated that he traveled to Turkey to ‘perform Jihad and join Jabhat Al-Nusra.’ He predicted, ‘there will come a time where people will only know to say Allahu Akbar.’” Charming. But as far as the Justice Department is concerned, Elvis came to these ideas entirely on his own, and never heard them from any other Muslim in New York.
Yet there is abundant evidence that Elvis was no lone wolf: “asearch of the defendant’s laptop yielded a variety of ISIS-specific extremist propaganda, including ISIS nasheeds, or Islamist hymns, including the ‘ISIS Anthem’ in English. Redzepagic also repeatedly accessed the website ‘Put hilafeta,’or ‘Way to the Caliphate,’ a Bosnian-language website for prospective foreign fighters from the Balkans who primarily sought to join ISIS and wage jihad in Syria.” These kinds of websites are easy to find for the average thrill-seeker; to find them requires a bit of dedication and specialized knowledge about how the jihadis spread their message online.
But once again, the feds don’t care. They got Elvis, and that’s all that matters. The idea that there may be other jihadis here in America? Inconceivable!
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.