Two students from Mississippi State University were arrested by the FBI for trying to leave the country to join ISIS.
Jaelyn De’shaun Young, 19, and Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, 22, were arrested at 6:30 in the morning on Saturday, August 8th at a regional airport near Columbus, Mississippi. They chose Golden Triangle Regional Airport because they felt that a smaller airport would have weaker security. They are both unemployed US citizens.
Their destination was Syria. Originally, they planned on flying to Greece and taking a bus to Turkey, but their final plans would have taken them from Atlanta to Amsterdam and then to Istanbul. They were posing as honeymooners so that they would not have to be accompanied by a chaperone on their trip.
They were charged with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group, according to the Associated Press. A federal judge denied them bond.
Dakhlalla graduated from Mississippi State University this May with a degree in Psychology, writes Therese Apel of the Clarion-Ledger. His family, who have said they are “absolutely stunned” by his arrest, is cooperating with the FBI, including his father Oda H. Dakhlalla, who is imam of the Islamic Center of Mississippi in Starkville.
Young had been enrolled until May as a sophomore chemistry major. She graduated with honors in 2013 from Warren Central High School, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Her father is a US veteran, deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of 21 years, and who is now employed as a police officer. She converted to Islam in April of this year, according to WMCActionNews5 staff.
Her former teacher, R.J. Morgan, said of her:
Always very polite, insightful, thoughtful. Just a really nice kid. Super smart, super intelligent.
Beginning in May, Young spoke online to undercover FBI agents about her desire to join ISIS. The FBI was tipped off by several tweets she made that month. She said that they wanted to be medics for the injured, and volunteered Dakhlalla to help with the group’s internet media to “correct the falsehoods heard here.”
The affidavit quoted her telling the undercover agent:
I need help crossing from Turkey to Syria with my partner.
Dakhlalla told an agent in June that he was “good with computers, education, and media” so he could help with recruitment, and in July said that he wanted to join up as a fighter.
I am willing to fight. I want to be taught what it really means to have that heart in battle.
Tom Dees of FOX 13 quoted his statement on the Chattanooga shootings:
What makes me feel better after just watching the news, an akhi [brother] carried out an attack against US Marines in Tennessee. The number of supporters are growing.
Mississippi State University officials have stated that they will be cooperating with the investigation however possible.