ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Two men from northern Virginia charged with trying to help ISIS faced a judge in an Alexandria courtroom on Tuesday.
This hearing was brief, but very emotional as the families of both men filled the courtroom. Many family members raised their hands in the air in the shape of a heart as the defendants were led away by the U.S. Marshals.
Joseph Farrokh, 28, of Woodbridge, was arrested Friday at the Richmond International Airport. Officials said his ultimate destination was Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group.
Court documents said that 25-year-old Mahmoud Elhassan, also of Woodbridge, drove Farrokh to the airport.
Both men are charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization.
The family of Elhassan would not talk to the media as they left the federal courthouse. But Elhassan's attorney insisted that not only was his client innocent, but he was the victim of entrapment by federal investigators.
"My client is innocent of those charges,” said Ashraf Nubani, the attorney for Elhassan. “The issue is the way that the government goes about these cases. They had three informants in this case who were looking for people that they could get in trouble. They thought that they found someone and my client is only charged with aiding and abetting that someone."
Both men are currently in federal custody. If convicted, both could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
A bond hearing is set for Farrokh on Thursday. Elhassan’s bond hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to make any statement on Tuesday about this case.