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Recruiting for ISIS: California man gets 30 years in jail

Muhanad Badawi, 25, was found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to the militant group in the form of his recruit, Nader Elhuzayel

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A California man convicted of attempting to help a friend travel to the Middle East to fight on behalf of ISIS was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said.

Muhanad Badawi, 25, was found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to the militant group in the form of his recruit, Nader Elhuzayel, who was convicted of conspiring and attempting to join a terrorist organization. In September, Elhuzayel was also sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“The lengthy sentence imposed today results from the defendant’s acceptance of ISIS’s murderous ideology and his participation in a scheme designed to betray the United States,” United States Attorney Eileen Decker said on Wednesday.

In arguing for the 30-year sentence plus a lifetime of supervised release, US prosecutors said Badawi was “a radicalizer, recruiter, and facilitator” for ISIS who aspired to die a martyr. Prosecutors argued that Badawi deserved the same sentence as Elhuzayel.

“Their crimes are equally serious, their prospects for rehabilitation are equally bleak, and the need to protect the public from their future crimes and crimes by others like them is the same,” they wrote in a memorandum to the US district court in Santa Ana, California, earlier this month.

Badawi’s defense attorney, Kate Corrigan of Corrigan, Welbourn, Stokke, had pushed for a 15-year sentence, arguing that unlike Elhuzayel, her client did not have a ticket in his hand to leave the country and join ISIS. She said she plans to appeal the conviction and the sentence.

Badawi was apprehended on May 21, 2015, the same day Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport while attempting to travel to Tel Aviv, Israel, before heading to Istanbul, Turkey. Badawi, who emigrated to the US from Sudan in 2006, gave Elhuzayel access to a debit card linked to his Pell grant funds to purchase his one-way plane ticket, in violation of federal financial aid rules.