ANAHEIM, Calif. — A California man was sentenced to 30 years in prison this week after being convicted of conspiring to provide material support to the barbaric Islamic group ISIS.
Muhanad Elfatih Badawi, 25, of Anaheim, was convicted in June of the crime, as well as engaging in financial aid fraud. His friend, Nader Elhuzayel, 25, also of Anaheim, had been convicted as well.
“Defendant Badawi was a radicalizer, recruiter and facilitator, and like co-defendant Elhuzauyel, defendant Badawi aspired to die a martyr fighting jihad for ISIL,” prosecutors said of the defendant.
Evidence at trial included the men’s social media postings and recorded conversations, including statements that “it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield,” and “either you’re with (al-Baghdadi) or you’re with Barack Obama.”
Badawi purchased a one-way ticket for Elhuzayel to travel overseas to join ISIS, but Elhuzayel was arrested in May at the Los Angeles International Airport as he attempted to board a plane to Israel. His defense attorney asserted at trial that Elhuzayel was traveling to get married—not to join a terror operation—but federal officials state that Elhuzayel admitted his intentions to obtain ISIS contacts in Turkey.
“According to the trial exhibits, on Oct. 21, 2014, Badawi made a video of Elhuzayel swearing allegiance to the leader of ISIS and pledging to travel to join ISIS to be a fighter for the organization,” the U.S. Department of Justice outlines.
Officials believe Badawi used Pell grant money for the ticket.
“The defendant, like his co-conspirator, pledged his allegiance to a terrorist organization instead of the United States, as he attempted to recruit and radicalize others to support the group, which calls for the murder of Americans,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deirdre Fike said in a statement on Wednesday.
The two have been held without bond since their arrests. Three weeks ago, Elhuzayel was sentenced to 30 years behind bars, and on Wednesday, Badawi received the same sentence from U.S. District Judge David Carter, who characterized him as being “extraordinarily dangerous,” according to reports.
“With this sentence, Muhanad Badawi is being held accountable for conspiring to provide material support to ISIL and other federal offenses,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord in a statement. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats, and we will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters abroad and bring to justice those who conspire to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
According to reports, more than 30 Americans have been arrested this year on charges of conspiring to aid and abet ISIS.
As previously reported, FBI Director James Comey remarked earlier this year that he believes ISIS sympathizers are present nationwide.
“We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” he told a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see…”
Comey explained that Islamic terror groups believe that they are carrying out their acts as part of the end times.
“ISIL in particular is putting out a siren song with their slick propaganda through social media that goes like this: ‘Troubled soul, come to the caliphate. You will live a life of glory. These are the apocalyptic end times. You will find a life of meaning here fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are,” he outlined. “That is a message that goes out to troubled souls everywhere.”