Muhanad Badawi

Muhanad Badawi is a California resident who was convicted in June 2016 on terrorism-related and federal financial aid fraud charges. Badawi had conspired with Nader Elhuzayel to join ISIS abroad.Richard Winton, “Two O.C. men convicted of conspiring to fight with the Islamic State,” Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-oc-islamic-state-convicted-20160621-snap-story.html.

FBI agents arrested Badawi on May 21, 2015, at a gas station in Anaheim, California.Alex Dobuzinskis, “Two California men charged with seeking to help Islamic State,” Reuters, May 22, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/22/us-usa-security-california-idUSKBN0O70H520150522. He admitted to federal agents that he was aware of Elhuzayel’s plans to join ISIS and that he paid for Elhuzayel’s Turkish Airlines plane ticket.Michael Martinez and Stella Chan, “Two Southern California men arrested, accused of trying to join ISIS,” CNN, May 23, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/22/us/california-men-charged-isis-conspiracy/. According to prosecutors, Badawi used his federal financial aid to buy Elhuzayel’s ticket.Richard Winton, “Two O.C. men convicted of conspiring to fight with the Islamic State,” Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-oc-islamic-state-convicted-20160621-snap-story.html.

Before Badawi’s arrest, FBI had monitored telephone conversations between the two alleged would-be foreign fighters since April 2015for over more than a month. Authorities discovered that the two planned to send Elhuzayel to join ISIS on May 21, 2015.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. They had purchased a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv that had a strategically planned six-hour layover in Istanbul, intending for Elhuzayel to make his way to Syria through Turkey.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. The pair alleged to family and federal authorities that Elhuzayel was visiting relatives in the West Bank, and would potentially stay there and “start a family,” the criminal complaint indicates.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. FBI agents arrested Elhuzayel at Los Angeles International airport.“ISIS recruits Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel arrested near L.A. charged,” NBC News, May 22, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/isis-recruits-muhanad-badawi-nader-elhuzayel-arrested-near-l-charged-n363461.

Badawi allegedly told an identified male in a recorded conversation that he too intended to join ISIS.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Badawi asserted that he was “gonna join soon,” in reference to joining the terror group.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download.

On May 22, 2015, Badawi appeared in Santa Ana federal court and was ordered held without bail.Associated Press, “2 men plead not guilty to conspiring to aid terror group,” San Jose Mercury News, May 22, 2015, http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_28169525/terrorism-task-force-arrests-2-men-1-at. On June 8, he pled not guilty in court to the charge of “conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group.”“2 men plead not guilty to conspiring to aid terror group,” Associated Press, June 8, 2015, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d37a790e12044831ac237ef196dff911/2-men-plead-not-guilty-conspiring-aid-terror-group.

Badawi engaged in several online platforms to express his pro-ISIS views.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Badawi and Elhuzayel posted photos and comments glorifying ISIS on Facebook. He also operated two pro-ISIS Twitter accounts under the handles @darrulislam and @Mohunnid, both of which were monitored by the FBI.“UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NADER ELHUZAYEL and MUHAMAD BADAWI” United States Department of Justice, May 22, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/file/441231/download. The account @darrulislam has been suspended.Muhanad Badawi, Twitter, accessed Jun 25, 2015, https://twitter.com/account/suspended.

On June 21, 2016, a federal jury in California found Badawi guilty of one count of financial fraud and attempting to provide material support to ISIS. He faces up to 30 years for the material support charge and up to five years for the financial fraud charge.Richard Winton, “Two O.C. men convicted of conspiring to fight with the Islamic State,” Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2016, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-oc-islamic-state-convicted-20160621-snap-story.html.

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