OC man gets 15 years in prison for attempting to help ISIS

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An Orange County man who tried to travel to Syria in an attempt to help the Islamic State terror organization was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday. (Mona Shafer)

An Orange County man who tried to travel to Syria in an attempt to help the Islamic State terror organization was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday.

Adam Dandach, a 22-year-old Orange resident who admitted he attempted to provide material support to ISIS, will also be on probation for the rest of his life.

In sentencing Dandach, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna said the defendant's conduct was "serious," required "significant planning," and went on for more than a year.

In August 2015, Dandach admitted that between November 2013 and July 2, 2014, he attempted to travel to Syria to join the group and knew ISIS engaged in terrorism.

Dandach was stopped while trying to board a Delta Airlines flight at John Wayne Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on July 2, 2014. He lied on a passport application when he claimed he accidentally threw away his old one, but prosecutors said he knew his mother confiscated his passport when she learned of his travel plans.

Dandach allegedly admitted to investigators that he wished to live under the control of ISIS and intended to undergo weapons training.

Federal court papers stated, "he was traveling to Syria for the purpose of pledging his alliance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, a known terrorist organization, that he would assist ISIS with anything that ISIS asked him to do, and that he believed the killings of U.S. soldiers are justified killings."

But his attorney, Pal Legnyel-Leahu, said his client was not headed to Syria to fight but to help widows and orphans in the Islamic State.

"This was well before all the terrorist acts that we heard about," he said. "This was well before the beheadings on the beach or the beheadings of the journalists."

But officials added that Dandach also celebrated terrorists on social media and had videos and pictures of decapitations made by ISIS.

Lengyel-Leahu said his client's mental and psychological issues were caused by problems at home, such as child abuse, sexual abuse and violence. He added that his client now rejects the terrorist actions of ISIS.

The FBI released a statement following Dandach's sentencing.

"This sentence makes it clear that the government will not tolerate support for terrorism by American citizens," it said.

At the end of his sentencing hearing, Dandach waived his right to an appeal.
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