Hearing began Monday in a case involving the arrest of two Americans over the weekend at a Mississippi airport for plotting to join the Islamic State group in Syria, according to local reports. Jaelyn Delshaun Young, 19, and Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, 22, were arrested Saturday morning from the Golden Triangle Regional Airport near Columbus.
Federal authorities filed a criminal charge against the couple who reportedly planned for a year to leave the United States to join the terrorist group by crossing into Syria from Turkey. Young, who attended Mississippi State University, allegedly planned to serve ISIS as a doctor. The couple, who got married in June planned to claim they were going on their honeymoon as a cover for their travel, and were charged with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The report added that the charges indicate the two, who were also planning to conduct a "nikkah" or Islamic marriage once they were in ISIS territory, told FBI agents about their plans. In June, Young was connected by an FBI agent to another agent who posed as a facilitator of ISIS. Young, a 2013 Warren Central High School graduate, reportedly asked him about ways to reach Syria from Turkey.
"We don't know Turkey at all very well (I haven't even travelled outside U.S. before)," Young reportedly told the FBI agent. Later, she added that Dakhlalla "really wants to correct the falsehoods heard here" about the group, and said: "U.S. media is all lies."
Young also referred to ISIS as "Dawlah" and reportedly said she wants to "raise little Dawlah cubs." Dawlah, which means a dynasty or a kingdom in Arabic, forms a part of the group's Arabic name, leading to the acronym Daesh used in some circles.
In June, Dakhlalla told the first FBI agent, in an online conversation, that he was "good with computers, education and media." In July, he said, according to the charges: "I am willing to fight," AP reported. Young and Dakhlalla were reportedly impatient about getting their passports ready and, on July 1, the latter paid $340 to expedite the process.
While earlier messages, cited in the charges, indicate they first planned to fly to Greece and then travel to Turkey by bus, later messages showed that they bought tickets on Delta Air Lines leaving Columbus bound for Atlanta, Amsterdam and ultimately Istanbul. Young reasoned that they could slip through unnoticed by security at a small airport, AP reported.
Last month, FBI Director James Comey said that over 200 Americans have tried to travel or have travelled to Syria to join ISIS. However, the number is still significantly smaller than the number of Europeans who have joined the group. Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s counterterrorism chief, estimated in June that about 4,000 Europeans have joined ISIS.
"We continue to identify individuals who seek to join the ranks of foreign fighters ... and also homegrown violent extremists who may aspire to attack the United States from within," Comey said last month, during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing.