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Would-be IS Martyrs Arrested in California

  • Molly McKitterick

File - Police vehicles driving through Los Angeles International Airport.

File - Police vehicles driving through Los Angeles International Airport.

Two California men have been charged with conspiring to travel to the Middle East to join the militant group Islamic State.

Muhanad Budawi and Nader Elhuzayel, both 24, appeared in federal court Friday, a day after they were taken into custody, one at Los Angeles International Airport.

According to a statement from Justice, the criminal complaint outlines a scheme in which Badawi and Elhuzayel "used social media to discuss Islamic State and terrorist attacks, expressed a desire to die as martyrs and made arrangements for Elhuzayel to leave the United States to join ISIL (Islamic State)."

The statement continues, "In recorded conversations last month, Badawi and Elhuzayel 'discussed how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield.'"

Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, planning to take a plane to Tel Aviv. According to the allegations in the complaint, Elhuzayel admitted "that he planned to disembark in Istanbul to join ISIL and did not intend to travel on to Israel."

The judge ordered Badawi held without bond and Elhuzayel held until a detention hearing next week.

If convicted, Badawi and Elhuzayel each would face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to ISIL.

The pair join several other Americans facing federal charges of planning to join IS fighters on the ground.