Parents of Anaheim man convicted of trying to join ISIS argue he's innocent

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
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The parents of 25-year-old Nader Elhuzayel said he was not a terrorist and that he was foolishly trying to see a girl in Israel he met online.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- The parents of an Orange County man sentenced to 30 years in prison for trying to join ISIS said he is innocent and that he was influenced by a girl he met online.

Nader Elhuzayel, 25, received the sentence in September after federal agents arrested him at the Los Angeles International Airport in May of 2015.

Officials said he was attempting to board an airplane that would help him get from Turkey to Tel Aviv, Israel.

"Nader is a naive, gullible boy who was told by a woman that he was going to Israel to marry her," Salem Elhuzayel, Nader Elhuzayel's father said.

His parents said he was foolishly going to see a girl he met online who influenced him and that she was part of the reason he began to speak in support of ISIS.

"He doesn't deserve any of the sentences. Nader didn't do anything wrong to deserve anything," Falak Elhuzayel, Nader Elhuzayel's mother said.

MORE: 2 Anaheim men convicted of conspiring to fight for ISIS

During his trial, federal prosecutors pointed to social media accounts of Nader Elhuzayel and co-defendant Muhanad Badawi.

The men talked about becoming martyrs for the terrorist group, according to authorities.

Badawi's attorney argued that Nader Elhuzayel was working as a lone wolf and that her client was the victim of a bad friendship.

Nader Elhuzayel's parents said it was the other way around.

"Definitely influenced Nader to talk. Nader had never done, even they admit it, any harm to this nation," Salem Elhuzayel said.

During the sentencing, the judge said Nader Elhuzayel had no remorse, just a message of death and destruction.

His parents believed he did not get a fair trial and was sentenced for what he said and not for his actions. They said they're holding out for justice.

"My son is a very good kid. He never would be a terrorist, because I know my kids are all good kids," Falak Elhuzayel said.

The Elhuzayels said they've hired a new attorney who was appealing the sentence.