Two men accused of plotting to provide material support to “Islamic State” (IS) appeared before a court in California on Friday. The prosecutors charged Anaheim residents Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel, both 24, after investigators tracked their communications on social media and found messages claiming their support for IS.
According to court documents, on May 7 Elhuzayel used Badawi’s credit card to purchase a ticket to Tel Aviv, Israel, via Istanbul, Turkey. Police arrested Elhuzayel at Los Angeles International Airport on May 21 as he prepared to depart and Badawi in Anaheim, the home to Disneyland, on the same day. Badawi suggested that he, too, eventually planned to go to the region to join the fight, the Justice Department reported.
Elhuzayel told authorities that he had planned on getting off the plane in Turkey and traveling to fight with IS in Syria, according to the complaint. However, his father, Salem Elhuzayel, told the Orange County Register that he had dropped his son off for the Israel-bound flight so that he could visit Palestinian aunts and cousins.
“I think they’re looking for a victim,” he said. “He’s an innocent human being.” Officials searched the motel room where the family has lived since their eviction from their home, Salem Elhuzayel said.
On Friday, IS claimed responsibility for a deadly mosque attack in Saudi Arabia.
mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP,DW)