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Two US men convicted of supporting 'Islamic State'

Two men in California have been convicted of providing material support to the so-called "Islamic State" group in Iraq and Syria. One of the convicted was arrested last year trying to board a plane to Turkey.

Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi, both 25, were convicted of conspiring to aid and abet a foreign terrorist organization by a US District Court in southern California, federal prosecutors said.

Badawi was convicted of aiding and abetting Elhuzayel, who was found guilty of attempting to provide support to IS.

Both men were arrested on May 21, 2015, as Elhuzayel tried to board a flight from Los Angeles to Turkey. From there Elhuzayel planned to cross into Syria to join IS, prosecutors said.

The jury also convicted Elhuzayel of multiple counts of bank fraud. Badawi was convicted on a single count of financial aid fraud for using student aid to buy a plane ticket for Elhuzayel.

Prosecutors said they had documented numerous social media statements by the two supporting the Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In one recorded conversation, the two "discussed how it would be a blessing to fight for the cause of Allah, and to die in the battlefield," according to the US attorney statement.

The two men's defense lawyers argued that their comments were offensive but within First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.

The two will be sentenced in September. They face up to 15 years in prison on the terrorism-related charges. Elhuzayel faces up to 30 years in prison on each bank fraud count. Badawi could get up to five years for financial aid fraud.

cw/bk (AP, Reuters)

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