Adam Dandach, Pride of El Modena High School, Guilty of Trying to Help Islamic State

Adam Dandach (inset) tried to become a homegrown Orange County terrorist like the late Adam "Azzam the American" Gadahn.
Adam Dandach (inset) tried to become a homegrown Orange County terrorist like the late Adam "Azzam the American" Gadahn.
FBI (inset El Modena High School)

Orange resident Adam Dandach, who'd changed his first name to Fadi-Fadi by the time he tried to fly off and join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last year, pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and making a false statement in a passport application.

Adam Dandach, OC's First Alleged ISIS Recruit, Charged With Supporting Terrorism

The 21-year-old, who pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James V. Selna in Santa Ana, could get 25 years in federal prison at sentencing scheduled for January, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Under a plea deal with Selna, Dandach admitted that, beginning in approximately November 2013 and continuing until July 2, 2014, he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIL with the purpose of providing material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization. He further admitted that he knew that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorist activity and terrorism.

"Mr. Dandach acknowledged his support for the Islamic State, a terrorist organization whose members are known for the torture and murder of innocent victims," says David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI'S Los Angeles Field Office, in a statement.

According to court documents, on July 1, 2014, Dandach purchased a ticket to fly from Santa Ana to Istanbul. The FBI intercepted Dandach at John Wayne International Airport the following day, and he went on to tell special agents that his ultimate destination was Syria and that he intended to pledge allegiance to ISIL's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He explained that he wished to live under the control of ISIL and intended to undergo weapons training.

Dandach also admitted that he made a false statement in a passport application, namely that he had lost his previous passport. In fact, a family member had taken Dandach's passport from him during the previous year when he expressed an interest in traveling to Syria.

"Adam Dandach attempted to travel to Syria to provide material support to ISIL, and lied in his passport application in order to do so," says Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin in the statement.

"As Mr. Dandach succumbed to ISIL's online recruiting efforts, the Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to uncover his plan before he left the United States, which prevented this young man from becoming a foreign fighter," adds U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker, in reference to the Orange County-based task force. "As a result of today's guilty pleas, Mr. Dandach now faces a lengthy term in federal prison."

Selna's sentence, set to be handed down on Jan. 11, could get 15 years in federal prison for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and as many as 10 years for making a false statement in a passport application.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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