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Lawyer says Woodbridge men charged with terrorism are victims of anti-Muslim hysteria

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. –   The Virginia man accused of plotting to join the terror group ISIS went before a federal judge in Northern Virginia, and so did the man charged with helping him.

Two Woodbridge men were arrested on terrorism charges last Friday. One man was arrested at Richmond International Airport just before he boarded a flight ultimately bound for Syria.

Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, who was later arrested in Woodbridge is charged with aiding and abetting his friend Joseph Hassan Farrokh, 28, in his attempt to assist ISIS.

Farrokh was also in court Tuesday and will be held until a bond hearing on Thursday. Farrokh was charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Attorney Ashraf Nubani, who only represents Elhassan, said anti-Muslim hysteria landed him in jail.

“I think it’s unfortunate that in the media and public discourse we allow these cases to be dictated by the position of the government,” Nubani said.

Numbani questioned how federal agents used confidential informants in this case. He said both men are innocent and the government cooked up a case against them.

“They had three informants in this case that were looking for people to get in trouble,” Numbani said.

Federal investigators allege in court documents that Farrohk was the one who wanted to fight with ISIS, and had purchased a plane ticket to Jordan.

Families and members of the faith community were at the hearing. Members from the Islamic community in Dumfries, where both suspects worship, said that the Farrohk and Elhassan they know are good men.

“Never had an inkling this was going to happen or anything like that; never imagined these brothers would do something like this,” said Ashmeer Tahir, who previously worshiped with the suspects.  “But like I said, I don’t know WHAT they did; you know what I’m saying."

Both men have a preliminary hearing at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Farrokh has a detention hearing Thursday, at 2 p.m.  and Elhassan’s is next Tuesday.

They both face up to 20 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine.