2 Anaheim Men Convicted in Conspiracy to Join ISIL

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Two Anaheim residents were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to provide support for the terrorist organization ISIL.

Two Anaheim men charged with conspiring to provide material support for ISIS appeared in a Santa Ana federal courtroom on May 22, 2015. Nader Elhuzayel is at left and Muhanad Badawi is at right. (Credit: Bill Robles)

Two Anaheim men charged with conspiring to provide material support for ISIS appeared in a Santa Ana federal courtroom on May 22, 2015. Nader Elhuzayel is at left and Muhanad Badawi is at right. (Credit: Bill Robles)

Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi, who are both 25, were arrested in May 2015, and have been held without bail since then.

Amid an FBI investigation, they were arrested when Elhuzayel tried to board a plane at Los Angeles International Airport, with a ticket to travel to Turkey and plans to go on to Syria, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Badawi planned to follow at a later time, a criminal complaint stated. After a two-week trial, a federal jury in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana took just over an hour to reach a verdict.

On social media, the pair had on discussed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, terrorist attacks and the hope they would die as “martyrs.”

They referred to ISIL as “we” in recorded conversations, prosecutors said.

In addition to the conspiracy convictions, Elhuzayel was found guilty of attempting to provide material support for ISIL, and Badawi was found guilty of aiding and abetting the attempt to provide support to ISIL.

The parents of Nader Elhuzayel provided this photo of him after he was arrested in Anaheim on May 21, 2015, for allegedly attempting to join a terrorist group.

The parents of Nader Elhuzayel provided this photo of him after he was arrested in Anaheim on May 21, 2015, for allegedly attempting to join a terrorist group.

Elhuzayel was also found guilty of 26 counts of bank fraud. He had obtained cash for his travel by depositing stolen checks into his personal accounts and then withdrawing cash at Orange County banks.

Badawi used his federal financial aid to purchase Elhuzayel’s plane ticket. He was convicted of one count of federal financial aid fraud.

“These two defendants betrayed their country and sought to join ISIL, a terrorist organization dedicated to brutally murdering innocent people,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker in a statement.

At an afternoon news conference in downtown L.A., FBI Los Angeles Assistant Director Deirdre Fike compared the investigation to "trying to find a needle in a national haystack."

Elhuzayel’s sentencing hearing is set for Sept. 19; Badawi’s is Sept. 26.

Elhuzayel faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison on each bank fraud count and 15 years on each material support count. Badawi faces up to five years on the financial aid fraud count and 15 years for the material support counts.

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