U.S. News

Two Florida men plead guilty to planning to help Islamic State

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) - Two Florida men have pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State by planning to travel to Syria to join the militant group, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Both men are U.S. citizens and live in Palm Beach County.

Dayne Antani Christian, 32, and Darren Arness Jackson, 51, each pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State. Jackson made his plea on Tuesday and Christian pleaded last week, each to U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg.

Each man faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted on the conspiracy charges. Christian also pleaded guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and faces up to 10 yeas in prison if convicted for that charge.

The two men, along with co-defendant Gregory Hubbard, 53, were arrested by the FBI, after Jackson last July drove Hubbard and an FBI confidential informant to Miami International Airport for a flight to Germany.

Court records show that prosecutors claim that Hubbard bought a ticket for Berlin and planned to travel by train to Turkey and then cross into Syria to join Islamic State.

A July 2016 indictment returned by a grand jury charged all three men with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

That indictment says that at least as far back as July 2015 and continuing until their arrests, Christian and Jackson told Hubbard and the FBI confidential informant about supporting Islamic State and of a desire to travel to Syria for that purpose, the Justice Department’s press statement issued on Tuesday shows.

The same indictment says Christian and Jackson provided firearms and training in a remote area of Palm Beach County so that Hubbard and the FBI source could learn to shoot.

All three have been detained since their arrests. Hubbard is scheduled for trial on Oct. 30.

Forces backed by the United States, Turkey and Russia are advancing on Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. Iraqi government forces also retook several Iraqi cities last year and the eastern part of the city of Mosul.

Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish