WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Virginia taxi driver was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday for trying to help another man join the Islamic State militant group in Syria, the Justice Department said.


Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 26, of Woodbridge, had pleaded guilty in October to driving Joseph Hassan Farrokh to Richmond, Virginia, in January 2016.


Farrokh planned to fly from Richmond to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State, with Elhassan to follow him at a later date, the Justice Department said in a statement.


Farrokh, who had been given money by Elhassan, was arrested at the Richmond airport. Elhassan, a Sudanese immigrant, also pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).


The arrests were part of U.S. government efforts to block people from joining Islamic State, a jihadist group that holds large parts of northern and eastern Syria as well as much of the city of Mosul in Iraq.


Elhassan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria, Virginia, the statement said. Besides the prison term, Trenga sentenced him to 10 years of supervised release.

Farrokh pleaded guilty to attempting to join Islamic State and was sentenced in July to 8-1/2 years in prison.

Elhassan had introduced Farrokh to someone he thought could help facilitate his travel. That person turned out to be an undercover informant working for the FBI.

Elhassan told FBI agents Farrokh had traveled to California and that neither he nor Farrokh supported Islamic State, according to court documents.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)