Virginia man accused of trying to join ISIS to remain jailed

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2016 6:02 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man accused of trying to join the Islamic State and fight in Syria has been ordered to remain in jail pending trial.

A federal magistrate on Thursday ordered Joseph Farrokh, 28, of Woodbridge to remain jailed despite a recommendation from pretrial services officers to release him to his parents' custody. The pretrial officers had said Farrokh could be safely released if he submitted to home confinement with GPS monitoring and other conditions.

Prosecutors say Farrokh conspired with three men he thought were ISIS facilitators to fly overseas and make his way to Syria. He was arrested Jan. 15 at the Richmond airport prior to departure.

Court papers state Farrokh told undercover informants that he wanted to chop off the heads of his enemies and die a martyr.

At Thursday's hearing, Farrokh's lawyer said his client is a devout Muslim who may have spoken rashly, but that doesn't prove he is a terrorist. He urged the judge not to overreact simply because of the Islamic State's infamy.

"If everyone were incarcerated for the dumb things they said, I dare say we'd all be in jail," defense lawyer Patrick Anderson said. "Oftentimes when we hear ISIS, emotions overcome intellect."

Prosecutor Dennis Fitzpatrick countered that Farrokh's actions showed he was serious about his intentions and not just engaged in idle rhetoric. And he said the government has an obligation to take it seriously when someone expresses a desire to join them.

The Islamic state, he said, "does not conceal the fact that they enjoy beheading people," he said.

Members of Farrokh's family who attended Thursday's hearing declined comment through an attorney.

A second Woodbridge man who was charged with aiding Farrokh by driving him to the airport and lying to FBI agents about his knowledge of Farrokh's intentions is being held pending a detention hearing scheduled for next week.