“Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick said in court that Elhassan, of Woodbridge, and Farrokh, originally from Woodbridge but living in Richmond when he was arrested, engaged in conversations that were ‘violent in nature,’ discussing ‘chopping off heads’ and ‘fighting against the U.S. military.’
“Durkin said there are personal details that put Elhassan’s actions in context. ‘Preceding all this, he was under tremendous emotional and family problems,’ Durkin said. ‘His mother had died at a young age, which was traumatic for him and his family.'”
Many people’s mothers die at a young age. Few decide as a result to chop off heads and fight against the U.S. military.
“Va. man pleads guilty to helping friend who wanted to join the Islamic State,” by Rachel Weiner, Washington Post, October 24, 2016:
On Jan. 15, Mahmoud Elhassan headed out in his taxi from Northern Virginia to pick up a friend who was preparing to travel overseas. They pulled over at a rest stop, where the friend, Joseph Farrokh, shaved off his beard. Then, with hours left before Farrokh’s flight, they went to a mall to pass the time.
Finally, Elhassan called another cab to take Farrokh to the Richmond airport. Elhassan began driving back north.
The shave and the second taxi were intended to help the pair avoid detection as Farrokh set out on his way to Syria to join the Islamic State. It was no use; the FBI had been watching the whole time, and an undercover informant was in on the plan. Farrokh was arrested as he walked toward his gate, Elhassan in the food court of Potomac Mills mall.
Elhassan, 26, pleaded guilty Monday morning to attempting to help a terrorist group and giving false statements to the FBI. He admitted that he introduced Farrokh to the informant at Farrokh’s wedding last fall and spoke numerous times about ways to get to Syria. He also lied to investigators, claiming that his friend had flown out of Dulles International Airport to attend a funeral in California.
He may yet go to trial on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support. He says that he himself never tried to go abroad.
“There’s an issue of whether this is more than an attempt” to help the Islamic State, said Thomas Durkin, Elhassan’s attorney.
A trial would be “meaningless,” Durkin said, because it probably would have little effect on Elhassan’s sentence. He said he hopes prosecutors will agree to drop the conspiracy charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick said in court that Elhassan, of Woodbridge, and Farrokh, originally from Woodbridge but living in Richmond when he was arrested, engaged in conversations that were “violent in nature,” discussing “chopping off heads” and “fighting against the U.S. military.”
Durkin said there are personal details that put Elhassan’s actions in context.
“Preceding all this, he was under tremendous emotional and family problems,” Durkin said. “His mother had died at a young age, which was traumatic for him and his family.”…