The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested two California men for aspiring to join ISIS terrorists.
Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi, both 24 years of age, were charged by the U.S. attorney’s office for conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group. One of the men had a ticket purchased for him by the Islamic State group to travel to Turkey with the goal of becoming a martyr, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The pair were arraigned in an overflowing Santa Ana courtroom while wearing shackles. Elhuzayel, who focused his eyes on the floor during the proceeding, was arrested on Thursday at LAX and is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday. He was accompanied by his family and attorney.
Badawi was held without bail. According to the AP report, his attorney said that she may seek his release with restrictions to ensure he attends court. He was arrested late Thursday near his home in Anaheim, where he lives with Elhuzayel.
The two used social media to express their enthusiasm for ISIS and that they would be blessed to lay down their lives on the battlefield, the FBI stated in a court affidavit.
Elhuzayel used Badawi’s debit card to buy a plane fare to Tel Aviv with a six-hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey, the affidavit said. He planned on disembarking in Turkey and traveling to fight with the Islamic State, according to the court filing. Badawi, according to the affidavit, told another man about Elhuzayel’s plan, saying “I’m gonna join soon. I don’t know how soon, but I will go.”
Badawi’s lawyer, Kate Corrigan, defended her client saying he was young, immature and scared that he could potentially get a long prison sentence. The alleged ISIS recruit came to America with his family from Sudan and is an engineering major at Fullerton College.
“There’s no indication he had any intention of him going to any other country,” Corrigan said. “I’m looking forward to sorting out whether what the government claims it has can be backed up.”
The arrests come on the heels of last year’s thirteen year sentence of Californian Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen for a federal terrorism charge assisting al-Qaida by providing weapons training.
Earlier this year, another Orange County man Adam Dandach, 21, was charged with trying to support the Islamic State group. Dandach has pleaded not guilty.