A Mississippi man pleaded guilty to conspiring to help the Islamic State after he and his girlfriend were arrested at an airport just before they boarded a flight to join ISIS, according to the Department of Justice.
Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, 23, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to a Department of Justice memo, Dakhlalla, who is Muslim, began dating a girl named Jaelyn Young in in the Spring of 2014. She soon converted to Islam and began wearing a burkah.
“After her conversion, Young distanced herself from family and friends and felt spending time with non-Muslims would be a bad influence,” the memo reads. “DAKHLALLA taught Young how to pray and to recite the Quran in Arabic, and Young began watching YouTube videos about Islamic law.”
The couple began watching ISIS propoganda and were radicalized. The FBI discovered a pro-ISIS Twitter handle allegedly run by Young. The FBI began communicating with Young over the internet.
“During these interactions,” the memo reads, “Young announced that she was preparing for ‘hijjrah,’ a reference to journeying to the Islamic State and further stated, ‘I have hijjrah partner and we are planning to leave before August,’ and that ‘[W]e just have to be careful because the NSA is launching new investigation programs and I dont want to be trapped here:(.'”
The couple allegedly planned to help ISIS with medical care and communications and planned to travel overseas to join ISIS. The DOJ said Dakhlalla expected to go to a military training camp upon arrival and said he wanted to learn “what it really means to have that heart in battle.”
The couple bought plane tickets to Turkey where they believed they would be taken to Syria, but were arrested by law enforcement at the Golden Triangle Airport in Columbus, Mississippi in 2015.
“He and Young also left behind incriminating farewell letters that explained that they would never be back, with Young acknowledging her role as the planner of the expedition and that DAKHLALLA was going as her companion, of his own free will,” the memo reads.
The sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
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