nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Dandach (C.D. Cal.) (plea agreement in ISIL material support case)

Another ISIL-related material support case. This one is interesting in that only some but not all of the offense conduct occurred after the State Department specified ISIL as a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (a necessary precondition for a charge under 18 USC 2339B). Of course, al Qaeda had long since been so designated, and the attached plea agreement’s reference to this fact appears to reflect an assumption that attempting to provide material support to ISIL during that earlier period can still be charged thanks to the preexisting AQ designation.

This is of course consistent, for what it’s worth, with the administration’s larger position on ISIL falling within the scope of the 2001 AUMF due to ISIL prior AQ affiliation (from its al Qaeda in Iraq days). Still, it is an interesting question whether a judge might have taken a different view (i.e., concluded that ISIL at some point prior to its own specific designation became too detached from AQ to count for this purpose) had it been litigated (to the best of my knowledge there has been no motion to dismiss, let alone an adjudication, involving this issue in a 2339B material support case. Not surprising it was not litigated in this case, though, since the offense conduct did continue past the time when ISIL got its own designation.

From DOJ’s press release (see also the attached plea agreement):

WASHINGTON – Adam Dandach, 21, of Orange, California, pleaded guilty today to a two-count second superseding information charging him with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and making a false statement in a passport application….

“Adam Dandach attempted to travel to Syria to provide material support to ISIL, and lied in his passport application in order to do so,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “One of the National Security Division’s top priorities remains stemming the flow of foreign fighters and bringing to justice those who seek to provide material support to foreign designated terrorist organizations.”

… Dandach admitted, pursuant to court documents, that beginning in approximately November 2013 and continuing until July 2, 2014, he attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIL with the purpose of providing material support to the designated foreign terrorist organization. He further admitted that he knew that ISIL was a designated foreign terrorist organization that engaged in terrorist activity and terrorism.

According to court documents, on July 1, 2014, Dandach purchased a ticket to fly from Santa Ana, California, to Istanbul. The FBI intercepted Dandach at the John Wayne International Airport the following day. Dandach told FBI special agents that his ultimate destination was Syria and that he intended to pledge allegiance to ISIL’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He explained that he wished to live under the control of ISIL and intended to undergo weapons training.

Dandach also admitted that he made a false statement in a passport application, namely that he had lost his previous passport. In fact, a family member had taken Dandach’s passport from him during the previous year when he expressed an interest in traveling to Syria.

Dandach faces a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years for providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years for making a false statement in a passport application. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2016. ….

Dandach Plea Agreement.pdf

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