A federal court judge has denied bond for the Mississippi couple accused of planning to join the terror group ISIL. The federal hearing was at 9 a.m. yesterday at the U.S. District Courthouse in Oxford.
The couple, identified as 22-year-old Muhannad Dakhlalla and 19-year-old Jaelyn Young, are both former students at Mississippi State University who reportedly planned to fly to Turkey in hopes of entering Syria and becoming members of ISIL.
The FBI investigation began this past May when the defendants expressed a desire to travel to Syria to support a foreign terrorist organization. The terrorist organization is ISIL, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
During an online interaction with undercover FBI Special Agent Stephen E. Thomason, Young stated that she and her partner, Dakhlalla, were planning to leave before August. She went on to discuss some of her concerns about being monitored by Government agencies, and she added that she and Dakhlalla would marry before leaving so that they could travel abroad without an escort.
Young expressed a readiness to join ISIL upon arrival. She explained that she was “skilled in math and chemistry and worked at an analytical lab here at my college campus.” She also detailed how Dakhlalla was good with computer science and media, and that the two could help with giving medical aid and correcting the “falsehoods” in America concerning ISIL.
“U.S. has a thick cloud of falsehood and very little truth about Dawlah (Islamic State) makes it through and if it does usually the links are deleted..” she wrote. “…A lot of Muslims are caught on their doubts of [Islamic State] because of what U.S. media says and he [Dakhlalla] wants to assure them the U.S. media is all lies when regarding Dawlah. After he sees change in that, he wanted to join the Mujahideen Ukhti.”
Young also expressed support of the attack against U.S. marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in July, writing “What makes me feel [better] after just watching the news is that an akhi carried out an attack against U.S. Marines in TN! Akhamdulillah, the numbers of supporters are growing.”
Both defendants subsequently expressed their readiness to travel overseas to join ISIL, with Young writing that leaving before school started was essential because “…it will be harder to disappear without getting caught while on [the] flight to Turkey.”
They then procured passports and made arrangements to fly to Istanbul via Amsterdam. Young is documented as writing “We live in a small town airport that doesn’t have much if [any] security. In fact, when we get to Dawlah In Sha Allah I can tell you about it. That’s one U.S. weakness — small towns’ airports have poor funding and less educated staff so it is easier to get through.”
On or about July 26, the pair purchased tickets for Delta Airlines Flight 5071 from Columbus, Mississippi with connections to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, to arrive at their final destination in Istanbul, Turkey.
Last Saturday, August 8, they traveled to Golden Triangle Regional airport in Columbus where they were then arrested. According to the criminal complaint, they both confessed to attempting to travel to Turkey to join ISIL in Syria. The pair is charged for attempting and conspiring to knowingly provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The charge in this complaint carries a maximum of penalty up to 20 years in prison with a fine of $250,000. The FBI Jackson’s joint terrorism task force has investigated this case. The prosecutors are Assistant U.S. attorneys Clayton Joyner and Robert Norman of the northern district of Mississippi along with trial attorney Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s counterterrorism section.
The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.