No red flags, says co-worker of NY terror plot suspect

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — A Filipino physician accused of funding the foiled terror plot in New York had showed no “red flags” while working at a government-run hospital in this city.

Between April 2013 and April 2016, Dr. Russell Salic, 37, worked at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) here for a four-year residency to become an orthopaedic surgeon.

Salic has been accused by the US government of sending $423 to fund a foiled jihadist plot to attack several areas in New York, including concert venues and subway stations. The United States Justice Department made the allegation shortly after Salic graduated from the residency at NMMC in April.

On the same month, Salic surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after he was implicated in a Maute-linked kidnapping and beheading in 2016. That case is being tried in court.

According to the US State Department, Salic sent the money from a Western Union outlet in this city to US undercover agents purportedly to help fund terror attacks in New York City along with two other suspects.

But NMMC assistant head Ramon Moreno said that during his four-year employment at NMMC, Salic did not raise any suspicion—whether work-related or personal in nature.

“He was a hardworking doctor. He always tends to his patients during his daily duty tours. In fact, he averages around 15 patients to care for everyday,” Moreno said.

He added that not one patient filed a report before the hospital complaining of any malpractice or any form of incident concerning Salic.

“This shows that his patients were satisfied of his performance as an orthopaedic practitioner,” Moreno said.

It was only in the news last Sunday that Salic’s former colleagues learned that he surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on April after he was implicated in a Maute-linked kidnapping case in 2016.

The news came as a shock to Moreno and his NMMC colleagues.

“If there was any indication that he was supporting terrorists, he kept it all to himself. He was very professional here. He was friendly and pakisama to colleagues and caring to his patients,” Moreno said.

Salic is not related to former Marawi City Mayor Fahad Salic, who was arrested in June for terrorism.