May 27, 2016 / 12:45 PM / 3 years ago

Virginia taxi driver indicted for conspiracy to support Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia taxi driver was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday for conspiring to support Islamic State, the Justice Department said on Friday.

According to the indictment, Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 26, drove Joseph Hassan Farrokh to Richmond, Virginia in his taxi. From there, Farrokh planned to fly to the Middle East to fight with the militant group.

Farrokh pleaded guilty in March to attempting to join Islamic State

Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey has said the number of Americans attempting to join Islamic State has dropped since August to roughly one per month from eight per month.

Elhassan is also charged with aiding and abetting Farrokh’s attempt to join Islamic State because he introduced him to someone he thought could help facilitate his travel. That person turned out to be an undercover informant working for the FBI.

Elhassan made false statements to the FBI, telling agents Farrokh had traveled to California and that neither he nor Farrokh supported Islamic State.

An arraignment hearing for Elhassan is scheduled for June 3. He faces up to 48 years in prison if convicted, according to the Justice Department.

Reporting by Julia Edwards and Susan Heavey; Editing by Frances Kerry

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