California man guilty of trying to support Islamic State

AP News
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Posted: Aug 10, 2015 10:08 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California college student who lied on a passport application so he could travel to Syria and join the Islamic State pleaded guilty Monday to a terrorism-related charge.

Adam Dandach, 21, of Orange pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and to lying on a passport application.

He acknowledged in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana that he supported violent jihad against the "occupiers" of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and planned to offer his services to the terrorism cause.

On July 2, 2014, the day he attempted to fly to Istanbul, he emailed a friend and complained that more people weren't helping the cause and that it was a "golden opportunity," according to court documents.

FBI agents found his smartphone loaded with jihadi songs supporting Islamic State fighting, maps of areas the group controlled, and Twitter updates of fighting by the terrorist group.

He told FBI agents who questioned him at John Wayne Airport that he was heading to Syria and planned to pledge allegiance and offer assistance to the Islamic State. He said he believed the killings of American soldiers were justified.

Dandach was initially snared on a charge of lying to get a replacement passport when he claimed on an application that he accidentally tossed out his old passport. He knew his mother confiscated his passport when she learned of his travel plans, prosecutors said.

His mother, Sawsan Ghannoum, told The Associated Press in March that she hid the passport when her son said he wanted to visit his father in Lebanon and volunteer for charity work.

She said he had psychological problems and was naive and misled by people on the Internet while trying to learn about Islam.

"He's not a kind of violent person, a terrorist," Ghannoum said. "He's afraid of a bee."

Dandach could face up to 25 years in federal prison when sentenced Jan. 11.

His lawyer did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment.