2 men arrested in California in terrorism probe

Two 'Homegrown Violent Extremists' Arrested in Southern California
Two 'Homegrown Violent Extremists' Arrested in Southern California

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Two California men arrested by the FBI wanted to join the Islamic State group and bought a plane ticket for one of them to travel to Turkey with the hope of becoming a martyr, U.S. prosecutors said Friday.

The U.S. attorney's office charged 24-year-olds Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorism group. The men are expected to make a court appearance Friday afternoon in Santa Ana.

Elhuzayel was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport, and Badawi was arrested late Thursday in Anaheim, where both men live, authorities said.

The two men discussed their support for the Islamic State on social media and in conversation, saying it would be a blessing to join the fight and die on the battlefield, prosecutors said in a complaint.

A one-way Tel Aviv, Israel-bound plane ticket with a six-hour layover in Istanbul, Turkey, was purchased for Elhuzayel using Badawi's debit card. Badawi told another man about Elhuzayel's plan, saying "I'm going to join soon. I don't know how soon, but I will go," the complaint said.

After his arrest, Elhuzayel told authorities he was planning on getting off the plane in Turkey and traveling to fight with the Islamic State, the complaint said.

Salem Elhuzayel, Elhuzayel's father, told the Orange County Register that he had dropped off his son for an Israel-bound flight so he could visit Palestinian aunts and cousins.

"I think they're looking for a victim," he said. "He's an innocent human being."

Salem Elhuzayel said FBI and SWAT officials searched the family's Anaheim motel room after they returned from the airport.

Badawi's sister declined to comment on the allegations.

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