ISIS recruits found in Virginia were aiding and trying to leave the U.S. to join the terror group in Syria but were arrested, says the U.S. Department of Justice.
NBC Washington reports that Joseph Hassan Farrokh, 28, of Woodbridge, Virginia, was arrested at the Richmond International Airport as he tried to board a flight on Friday evening, which was destined for Chicago. Officials are convinced that Farrokh would have boarded another flight to Amman, Jordan, with an ultimate destination of Syria to join up with ISIS.
Farrokh is a U.S. citizen and originally from Pennsylvania. Farrokh has been charged with attempting to provide resources and materials to a designated foreign terrorist organization, or ISIS.
Another resident of Woodbridge, Amand Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 25, was also arrested on Friday after he came back from driving Farrokh to Richmond. Elhassan is a legal permanent U.S. resident. He is originally from Sudan. Elhassan has been charged with aiding and abetting Farrokh’s alleged attempt to provide material support and resources to ISIS, according to USA Today.
The U.S. Department of Justice believe Elhassan knew about Farrokh’s plan to join ISIS and how Farrokh was covering his travel plans with a lie to his family. Apparently, Farrokh was telling his family that he planned to study in Saudi Arabia, but he was really going to be joining ISIS in Syria.
Prosecutors believe Farrokh had plans to join ISIS since last November.
The alleged plans of the duo were busted when Elhassan included a federal law enforcement informant in on the plan. Elhassan and Farrokh thought the informant was associated with ISIS.
Although Elhassan voluntarily consented to be interviewed by FBI agents after he took Farrokh to the airport, he reportedly lied to the FBI about numerous things. He did not admit that he had just driven Farrokh within a mile from the airport; he said he had seen Farrokh earlier in the day. He said his friend would be gone for two weeks to attend a funeral in California instead of telling officials he would be joining up with ISIS. Elhassan was subsequently arrested.
The other man caught a cab to the airport after he was dropped off in Richmond. He checked into his flight, cleared security, and almost got to the departure gate when he was arrested for attempting to join ISIS.
Both men each could earn a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted for their parts in aiding and trying to join ISIS. The first appearance for the men in court is scheduled for January 19, 2016. They will be seen in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
It is not known what connections the men may have had to ISIS before one decided to join the terror group in Syria. ISIS is known for recruiting people through social media. ISIS typically targets young men and women who may be swayed because they want to join something bigger or want to make a difference when they feel they don’t fit in or that they don’t belong. It is a tactic used over and over again by ISIS, and sadly, it is very effective and ISIS knows it.
The U.S. has had many of its citizens leave to join ISIS; it is estimated that around 250 people or more have joined ISIS. Some of those people who left to join ISIS have reentered the U.S. without being monitored or arrested.
[Photo by Shutterstock/Jinga]