A federal jury in Santa Ana convicted two men of conspiring to help Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, with one of the men trying to board a plane to the Middle East.
Nader Elhuzayel, 25, and Muhanad Badawi, 24, both residents of Anaheim, were convicted after a two-week trial that detailed their efforts to join the terrorist group, including their recorded pledges to “fight for the cause of Allah and to die in the battlefield,” according to court papers. The jury deliberated for just over an hour before handing down the verdict.
Elhuzayel was found guilty of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, and Badawi was convicted of aiding and abetting the attempt to provide material support, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
“These convictions are a message to those who aim to travel to take up arms with (Islamic State) and to those who support them — the FBI and our partners are determined to thwart your efforts,” said Assistant Director in Charge Deidre Fike, head of the FBI’s office in L.A.
The duo were arrested May 21, 2015. Agents from a counter-terrorism task force intercepted and detained Elhuzayel at Los Angeles International Airport before he boarded a plane bound for Israel with a layover in Turkey. Badawi was arrested at an Anaheim gas station.
Agents began monitoring the men after seeing their inflammatory comments on social media. But the scrutiny of the men intensified in April and May 2015 as agents eavesdropped on their phone calls and surveillance teams tracked their movements.