You remember Anaheim, the Muslim enclave recently minted: “Little Arabia.”
Two men arrested in Southern California and charged with conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group Islamic State had expressed a desire to die as martyrs, authorities said Friday.
Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, were arrested by FBI special agents Thursday evening, the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a news release.
Badawi and Elhuzayel used social media to discuss ISIL and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the U.S. to join ISIL, the release stated, citing a criminal complaint against the two men.
The men also discussed “how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield” in a recorded conversation last month, according to the complaint.
On May 7, Badawi let Elhuzayel use his credit card to purchase a one-way airline ticket from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, Israel, via Istanbul, Turkey, the Department of Justice stated.
Badawi had indicated he would travel to the Middle East in the future, according to the complaint.
Elhuzayel was arrested at LAX and allegedly admitted that he planned to disembark in Istanbul to join ISIL and did not intend to travel on to Israel.
Elhuzayel’s father, Salem Elhuzayel, said his son was planning to visit relatives in Palestine when he was taken into custody at the airport. Salem Elhuzayel said it was not possible that his son was involved in any plans to join the Islamic State.
“No way that he kept that from us. Nader is just an innocent human being who was traveling to go home to see his family and enjoy a stay of one, two months and then come back,” Salem Elhuzayel said.
The family’s apartment at the Crystal Inn in Anaheim was raided by authorities, Salem Elhuzayel said.
Nader Elhuzayel’s mother believes their family is being harassed because of where they are from.
“It is big harassment and racism too because we happen to be from the Middle East. We are Muslim people. … My kids were born in this country,” Elhuzayel’s mother said. “It’s like a nightmare being in this situation.”
Badawi and Elhuzayel made their first court appearance Friday afternoon at U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, but did not enter pleas.
Badawi’s attorney, Kate Corrigan, said he understands the severity of the charges against him. She said he was a college student who had lived in the U.S. for many years.
“He’s a young man,” Corrigan said. “He’ somebody that is very concerned about his family at this point, and he’s obviously scared.”
Both men face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted as charged.
A preliminary hearing for the two men was set for June 5.
Videos at the link above and more via: Pair (of Muslims) accused of trying to join ISIS
The FBI said Elhuzayel admitted after his arrest that he was headed overseas to join ISIS terrorists, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, FBI agents in Anaheim arrested his friend and alleged fellow terrorist supporter Badawi. Details of Badawi’s arrest were not released.
Elhuzayel’s parents, Palestinian immigrants Salem and Falak Elhuzayel, said their son is not a terrorist or sympathetic to terrorist ideals.
The two men “used social media to discuss (ISIS) and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Nader Elhuzayel to leave the United States to join (ISIS),” according to the complaint.
Beginning in 2014, Badawi allegedly began posting pro-ISIS messages on Twitter under several usernames. One alleged message was “Inshallah (God willing) soon the Islamic State will take over Baghdad …”
Nader Elhuzayel, who authorities said also used several names on Twitter, allegedly spread similar messages. He also said to Badawi that he “wanted to die in the battlefield; he wanted to die a (martyr),” according to the complaint.
“It’s nonsensical talk,” Salem Elhuzayel said regarding his son’s alleged tweets. “This is not our son. Somebody must be speaking on his behalf.”
But Nader Elhuzayel allegedly repeatedly discussed with Badawi his desire to leave the country and join ISIS. And both men allegedly denounced local Muslim leaders because they did not support the Islamic State.
On May 3, Nader Elhuzayel allegedly told Badawi in a recorded conversation, “May we be united in the Islamic State.” Badawi, according to the complaint, admitted to using his phone to buy Nader Elhuzayel’s plane ticket while the men sat in his car May 7.
About six months ago, Nader Elhuzayel began worshipping at the nearby West Coast Islamic Society in Anaheim. Officials at the mosque would not comment on the arrests, though one member said Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel, who both attended the mosque, did not associate with others.
“The individuals prayed and left,” Sammy Ahmed said following Friday prayers at the mosque. “They didn’t hang out.”
While apparently posting the ISIS-supporting messages, Nader Elhuzayel also began using iPhone apps to learn Arabic and use that skill to read the Quran in its original language.
Nader Elhuzayel and a mysterious woman, who also supports ISIS through social media, talked daily and planned to get married and have children, according to the complaint.
An Orange County defense attorney appointed by the federal court to represent Badawi at Friday’s proceeding in the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana said Badawi immigrated to the United States from Sudan when he was about 16 and has no previous criminal record.
A report issued earlier this week by the Anti-Defamation League cited 36 domestic arrests of individuals suspected of supporting terrorists so far in 2015. That figure does not include two men shot and killed earlier this month after opening fire at an event in Texas showcasing controversial cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.
The number of terror arrests in the United States this year is approaching the combined total of each of the past two years, 26 in 2014 and 22 in 2013, according to the May 20 ADL report.
First and second gen Muslim immigrants from Palestine and Sudan.