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Californian pleads not guilty to lying on passport form to travel to Syria to join terrorists

A Southern California man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of lying on a passport application so he could allegedly travel to Syria to hook up with a terrorist group.

Adam Dandach, 20, of Orange, entered the plea in federal court in Santa Ana on two charges, each carrying a maximum five-year prison sentence, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office. A trial was set for Sept. 9.

In court papers, federal authorities said Dandach told them he was traveling to Syria to pledge his alliance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and would assist the terrorist group with whatever was asked of him. He also said he believed the killings of U.S. soldiers were justified, authorities said.

Dandach, who is also known as Fadi Fadi Dandach, was stopped July 2 at the Orange County airport attempting to board a flight to Turkey after he applied for an expedited replacement passport claiming he had accidentally thrown his out.

Dandach's mother had actually hidden his original American passport when he told her about his proposed trip and seized money he had planned to use to travel overseas, authorities said.

Dandach told his brother that he knew his mother had taken the passport and was more disappointed he didn't make it to Syria than that he got in trouble with law enforcement, according to an affidavit filed in court by FBI special agent Siddhartha Patel.

A message left for deputy public defender Cuauhtemoc Ortega was not immediately returned.

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