Virginia man pleads guilty to aiding ISIS

A Virginia man pleaded guilty on Friday to trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in the third conviction of its kind this week.

According to federal documents, 28-year-old Joseph Farrokh attempted to travel to Syria to join the extremist group in January, and also gave a friend $600 to follow him.

Farrokh was eager to make the trip after watching videos promoting the group online. Last October, he told his friend and a person claiming to have connections to ISIS that he wanted to go quickly and “chop their heads.” 

Ahead of his trip, Farrokh met with a pair of undercover FBI sources, and then purchased a flight from Richmond, Va., through Chicago to Jordan, from where he hoped to travel to ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate.  

His friend, Mahmoud Elhassan, allegedly drove Farrokh the 90 miles from his hometown of Woodbridge to Richmond. On the way, Farrokh shaved his beard, in what federal officials said was an attempt to make him less suspicious to airport security.

He was arrested at the airport before boarding his flight. 

According to a tally maintained by The Washington Post, Farrokh’s plea on Friday is the 30th conviction of an American for trying to join ISIS, a phenomenon that U.S. officials have claimed is due to the radical group’s extensive online propaganda efforts.

Two days earlier, a 39-year-old man from Ohio pleaded guilty to plotting an attack in the United States inspired by ISIS. On Thursday, a jury in Phoenix found a 44-year-old man guilty of conspiring to support the group by supporting an attack in Garland, Texas.