Taxi Driver Charged With Helping Friend Join ISIS Indicted

Prosecutors said Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 26, conspired to provide material support to ISIS

A 26-year-old taxi driver from Virginia was indicted Thursday on charges he tried to help a friend join ISIS fighters, the U.S. attorney's office said.  

Prosecutors said Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 26, of Woodbridge, conspired with Joseph Hassan Farrokh to provide material support or resources to ISIS. Elhassan's attorney, however, has accused the FBI of creating cases against young Muslim men.

Both men were arrested earlier this year after Farrokh tried to board a flight to Chicago at Richmond International Airport, investigators said. Officials said Farrokh intended to board a flight to the Middle East once he reached Chicago.

Elhassan drove Farrokh to Richmond and later lied about where Farrokh was going, court documents said.

But Elhassan's lawyer, Ashraf Nubani, has claimed his client is a victim of prejudice against Islam or Muslims.

"The issue is the way the government goes about these cases," Nubani said. "They had three informants in this case who were looking for people that they can get in trouble. They thought that they found someone, and my client is only charged with aiding and abetting that someone."

Elhassan has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS, aiding and abetting the provision of material support to ISIS, and false statements. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 48 years in prison.

According to criminal complaints, Farrokh had been trying to leave the U.S. and join ISIS in Syria since Nov. 20, 2015. Elhassan allegedly introduced Farrokh to a person whom Elhassan believed had connections to individuals engaged in jihad overseas.

That person was an FBI informant cooperating with law enforcement as part of a plea deal for a reduced sentence in a criminal case, according to the complaint. 

Elhassan's next court appearance is scheduled for June 3. 

Farrokh pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS and admitted he had planned for months to join the terror group in Syria, The Washington Post reports.

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