After years of plotting to support ISIL and carry out violent jihad, Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 26, a former taxi driver of Woodbridge, Virginia, was sentenced to serve 11 years in prison and 10 years supervised release by a U.S. District judge last week.
Elhassan had been “attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and making false statements to the FBI,” according to a memo released on Friday from the Department of Justice.
Originally from Sudan, “Elhassan aided and abetted the attempt of Joseph Hassan Farrokh, 29, of Woodbridge, to travel from the U.S. to Syria in order to fight on behalf of ISIL,” according to court documents, which laid out the details of a plan the pair had begun plotting in 2015.
Farrokh would travel first, followed by Elhassan at a later date. Farrokh and Elhassan spoke in detail about their potential travel, including discussing the different routes each would take to travel to Syria. Farrokh also provided $600 to Elhassan to aid in Elhassan’s future travel to Syria. Both men spoke openly with each other about supporting ISIL and violent jihad, with Farrokh saying on Oct. 2, 2015, that he had no patience and wanted to go right away and “chop their heads.”
Elhassan entered a “guilty” plea on Oct. 24, 2016.
Farrokh and Elhassan secretly used apps. to communicate in earnest about traveling to Syria to join ISIL during the summer of 2015, even contacting and enlisting the help of ISIL supporters all over the world. However, their plans did not come to fruition.
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“Over the course of many meetings, the men discussed in detail their travel plans and efforts to avoid law enforcement detection, including Farrokh shaving his beard and flying out of Richmond International Airport, where they believed there would be less security. Farrokh and Elhassan agreed that Farrokh should tell his family that he intended to travel to Saudi Arabia to study,” according to the statement of facts.
On Jan. 15, 2016, court documents reported that the two acted on their plan to go to Syria:
“Elhassan picked up Farrokh at his home in Woodbridge and drove him to Richmond to a location approximately one mile from the airport. Farrokh then took another cab to the airport, checked in for his flight, cleared security and (unbeknownst to Elhassan) was arrested as he was approaching his departure gate. When approached by investigators later that day, Elhassan falsely stated to special agents of the FBI that (a) Joseph Hassan Farrokh had flown out of Dulles Airport earlier that day on a flight to California to attend a funeral; (b) Farrokh had said that he would be back in about two weeks; (c) neither he nor Farrokh supported ISIL; and (d) neither he nor Farrokh ever tried to find someone to help them get to ISIL territory.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and Dennis Fitzpatrick, with assistance from trial attorneys Andrew Sigler and Justin Sher of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
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