Two men in California have been accused of helping the Islamic State. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday. They have been charged with conspiring to join Islamic State forces in the Middle East.
Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi are both 24 years old and they are not the first people to be accused of conspiring to help the Islamic State. In recent months, United States authorities have begun targeting individuals they suspect of collusion with the Islamic State. In April, six Minnesota men were taken into custody on charges of conspiring to go to Syria to join the Islamic State.
The federal court case against these two men is being handled in Orange County, California. The prosecution alleges that the men conspired "to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization."
Published a Tweet in Support of Alleged Terrorists
Authorities say that Elhuzayel published a tweet on his social media account, in which he praised the efforts of two men killed by police after they attacked a Texas art exhibit featuring drawings of the Prophet Mohammad. The men were shot and killed by police.
Authorities say that both men said in a recorded telephone conversation last April that they supported the Islamic State and they wanted to die in battle. Authorities further allege that Badawi loaned his credit card to Elhuzayel to purchase a one-way flight to Tel Aviv, and that the plane was going to stop in Istanbul.
Elhuzayel is a naturalized citizen of the United States. He was taken into custody at the Los Angeles International Airport. Investigators say that he told them he was going to get off the plane in Istanbul in order to join the Islamic State. Allegedly, Badawi claimed he was going to go to the Middle East, too.
Could Be Sentenced to 15 Years in Jail
If these men are convicted of conspiring "to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization," they could be sentenced to a 15-year prison sentence. However, Badawi's defense attorney says that her client is looking forward to defending himself, that he is a college student, and that he does not have a criminal record.
As fears of terrorism relating to the Islamic State continue to escalate, and U.S. federal authorities increase their monitoring of American citizens' social media accounts for suspicious terrorist activity, we evaluate how much is too much. At the end of the day, no one should be convicted of a crime unless the individual is proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. Therefore, we must remain diligent to respect the rule of law in these cases.
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