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United States of America v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi

Court District Court for the Central District of California, United States
Case number SA CR 15-0060-DOC
Decision title Jury Verdict
Decision date 21 June 2016
Parties
  • United States of America
  • Nader Elhuzayel
  • Muhanad Badawi
Categories Material support to terrorism, Terrorism
Keywords Attempted Travel, foreign fighters, Islamic State, Provision of material support for terrorism, Social Media, Terrorism
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Summary

Two men, Mr. Nader Elhuzayel and Mr. Muhanad Badawi, were found guilty by a jury of conspiring to support the Islamic State on 21 June 2016 after earlier pleading not guilty. In particular, Mr. Elhuzayel, who was arrested prior to boarding a flight to Israel via Turkey at Los Angeles International Airport, was found to have encouraged others to support and join the Islamic State, and to have vowed to travel to Syria to fight for the terrorist group himself. Both were also convicted of financial fraud charges, the proceeds of which were used to fund the travel. A decision with regard to sentencing is anticipated later this year. 

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Procedural history

Following investigations by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Orange County, Mr. Elhuzayel and Mr. Badawi were arrested on 21 May 2015 by the FBI and were charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation, Islamic State (IS). Mr. Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, where he was scheduled to fly to Israel via Istanbul.

Additional charges relating to bank fraud and federal financial aid fraud were added to the case in October 2015.

The trial before a federal jury began on 8 June 2016 and it lasted two weeks.

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Related developments

The sentencing hearing for Mr. Elhuzayel is scheduled for 19 September 2016 and Mr. Badawi’s is set for 26 September 2016. 

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Legally relevant facts

The defendants both used social media to "discuss ISIL and terrorist attacks", with Mr. Badawi making posts supporting IS and violence against non-Muslims as well as saying he intended to join IS on his Facebook account.

Both defendants "expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the United States". Mr. Badawi also filmed Mr. Elhuzayel as he swore allegiance to IS and pledged to travel to Syria to be a fighter.

Mr. Elhuzayel had a scheme through which he deposited stolen checks into his personal accounts and then withdrew the cash to finance his travel. Mr. Badawai used his federal financial aid to pay for Mr. Elhuzayel’s flight to Israel, via Turkey. 

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Core legal questions

Federal Jury Trial: Are the defendants guilty of the crimes as charged in the indictment? 

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Specific legal rules and provisions

18 US Code, § 2339B, 18 US Code § 1344 and 20 US Code § 1097(a)

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Court's holding and analysis

This case was decided by a federal jury decision. On 21 June 2016, the jury found Mr. Elhuzayel guilty of attempting to provide material support to IS, a designated foreign terrorist organisation, of conspiring to provide material support to IS and of 26 counts of bank fraud.

On the same day, Mr. Badawi was found guilty by the federal jury of aiding and abetting the attempt to provide material support to IS, of conspiring to provide material support to IS and of one count of federal financial aid fraud.

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Further analysis

N/A

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Instruments cited

United States Code

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Related cases

N/A

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Additional materials

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Social media links

  • Counter Extremism Project, ‘Muhanad Badawi’, Counter Extremism Project, 2016.
  • Counter Extremism Project, ‘Nader Elhuzayel’, Counter Extremism Project, 2016.