Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Virginians Accused of Trying to Assist ISIL

(CN) - Two Virginia men were charged over the weekend with trying to help ISIL, accused of working to get one of them to Syria to join the terrorist group.

Joseph Farrokh, 28, and Mahmoud Elhassan, 25, were indicted Saturday on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and aiding and abetting such efforts, respectively.

The Woodbridge, Va., residents allegedly planned to get Farrokh on an airplane to the Middle East so he could join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.

Farrokh was arrested Friday afternoon at the Richmond International Airport as he was trying to board a plane to Chicago, where he allegedly planned to board another flight to Jordan. He ultimately wanted to end up in Syria so he could join ISIL, criminal complaints against both men allege.

Elhassan was arrested Friday night in Woodbridge after he returned from driving Farrokh to Richmond.

According to the criminal complaint against Elhassan, he introduced Farrokh to someone believed to have connections to people engaged in jihad overseas.

Prosecutors say Farrokh began asking for help traveling to Syria as early as last October.

Elhassan picked up Farrokh on Friday morning and took him to a spot about a mile from the airport, prosecutors say. Farrokh then took a cab to the airport, checked in for his flight and cleared security before being arrested by FBI agents, according to the complaint.

Farrokh's criminal complaint says he expressed anti-Christian views in an Oct. 31, 2015, conversation with his mother.

"Farrokh told his mother that he asked Allah to increase his torment on the Christians and to make their faces burn in hell's fire; he asked Allah to destroy the Christians because they are the enemies of Allah and the enemies of humanity," the complaint states.

Both Farrokh and Elhassan are scheduled to appear in federal court on Tuesday in Alexandria, Va. If convicted, they each face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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