A 20-year-old Orange County man who is accused of wanting to help an Islamic terrorist group in Syria pleaded not guilty Monday to two counts related to passport fraud.
Adam Dandach, also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach, was about to board a flight at John Wayne airport when he was stopped by the FBI’s Orange County Joint Terrorism Task Force on July 2, according to a federal indictment.
He appeared in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Monday, pleading not guilty to one felony count of making a false statement on a passport application and another of use of passport obtained through a false statement, according to Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek.
Dandach, a 2012 graduate of El Modena High School in Orange, was set to board a flight headed to Istanbul, Turkey, from where Dandach reportedly intended to travel to Syria, authorities said.
Dandach allegedly told authorities he was planning to pledge allegiance to an organization formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a jihadist Al Qaeda breakaway group.
He allegedly told the agents he would “assist ISIS with anything ISIS asked him to do, and that he believed the killings of U.S. soldiers are justified killings,” stated a federal magistrate’s detention order dated July 3.
Dandach was indicted Wednesday on the two felony counts. He had applied for an expedited U.S. passport on June 17, saying he needed to replace a passport issued in December 2013. He allegedly wrote that he had accidentally thrown his passport away.
But Dandach’s brother told federal agents that their mother had hid the original passport after learning that her son planned to fly overseas on Dec. 25. She also took away money that Dandach allegedly intended to use during his planned travel, according to court documents.
It was not clear where Dandach had planned to travel in December, or how agents were tipped to Dandach’s alleged plans before his planned flight to Turkey on July 2.