Two men arrested by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism in Southern California were charged Friday with conspiring to support ISIS after agents tapping their phones heard them saying it would be "a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah," according to prosecutors.
Nader Elhuzayel, 24, from Anaheim, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport with a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv, with a stop in Istanbul, Turkey, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Central District of California.
Elhuzayel admitted to agents after his arrest that he had no intention to continue to Israel but planned to "travel to the Islamic State, pledge allegiance to ISIL (ISIS), and defend ISIL against attackers," according to the complaint.
Muhanad Badawi, also 24 and from Anaheim, allowed Elhuzayel to use his credit card to purchase the ticket to the Middle East, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. Both men were charged Friday morning with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, according to the statement.
In recorded phone conversations between Badawi and Elhuzayel, the two men “discussed how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield," according to the criminal complaint. They also referred to ISIS as "we," the complaint said.
Investigators have also found that Elhuzayel expressed his support on social media for Elton Simpson, one of the two men killed in a shootout with police after trying to attack an event in Garland, Texas, earlier this month, the complaint said. Elhuzayel lauded the attempted attack on Twitter and said Simpson was a martyr, according to the complaint. Neither suspect is accused of plotting attacks in the U.S.
Both men are expected to make initial court appearances Friday afternoon. If convicted, each could face 15 years in prison, according to prosecutors. It is unclear if either has retained a lawyer.
— Pete Williams and Elisha Fieldstadt