O.C. man admits to trying to join ISIS, faces 25 years in prison

John Wayne Airport

Travelers pass through John Wayne Airport in 2011. A man who allegedly told federal agents he was traveling overseas hoping to join Al Qaeda breakaway group ISIS was arrested at the airport July 2.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A 21-year-old man from Orange County pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to join the militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, authorities said.

Adam Dandach, also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach, will face up to 25 years in federal prison for trying to travel to Syria in order to join the designated terrorist organization, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

Dandach, a resident of Orange, was arrested on July 2, 2014, at John Wayne Airport as he tried to board a plane to Istanbul.

The U.S. citizen told FBI agents that he planned to pledge his loyalty to ISIS and participate in weapons training under the aegis of ISIS fighters.


Following his arrest, Dandach pleaded not guilty and has remained in federal custody without bond.

Federal officials said he lied on his passport application so that he could get a new one to travel overseas and join the terrorist group.

Dandach claimed he had accidentally thrown away his original passport, according to the indictment. But prosecutors said he was trying to prevent his mother from thwarting his plans because she had possession of his original passport.

U.S. Atty. Eileen Decker said Dandach fell prey to “online recruiting efforts” by ISIS, which allowed federal investigators to track and intercept him.


“This case demonstrates the need for continued vigilance and swift action to fight the false allure of foreign terrorist organizations that threaten the security of the United States,” Decker said in a statement.

U.S. District Judge James V. Selna is scheduled to sentence Dandach on Jan. 11, 2016. He faces up to 15 years in prison for providing support to a foreign terrorist organization. In addition, he faces up to 10 years for making a false statement on his passport application.

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