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US Couple Charged with Trying to Join IS

  • VOA News

FILE - In this image shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town.

FILE - In this image shot with an extreme telephoto lens and through haze from the outskirts of Suruc at the Turkey-Syria border, militants with the Islamic State group are seen after placing their group's flag on a hilltop at the eastern side of the town.

A young Mississippi couple has been arrested and charged with trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria.

Muhammad Dakhlalla, 22, and his fiance, Jaelyn Young, 20, were arrested by the FBI on Saturday after travelling to the Golden Triangle Airport in Columbus, Mississippi, where they were to board flights to Amsterdam en route to Istanbul.

The pair was charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State. An affidavit from an FBI agent says both confessed to the charges after their arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, the two repeatedly said in online communications with undercover FBI agents that they planned to travel to Syria in support of the terrorist group.

Over the course of several months, Young told undercover agents on various social media platforms that money was the only thing keeping them from immediately travelling to join Islamic State, updating them when the pair found jobs and when they had saved enough for plane tickets. At one point she told agents that the Muslim family she spends time with, and her local community as a whole, did not support Islamic State and that she disagreed with them.

Young said the story the two would use to travel abroad would be that they were newlyweds on their honeymoon.

FBI agents also made contact with Dakhlalla on social media, where he said he expressed his intention to join IS saying he was good with computers, education and media and asking how he could help.

The two are former students at Mississippi State University. Young was a chemistry major and the daughter of a police officer. Dakhlalla graduated in May and was planning to start graduate school in psychology. His father is a religious leader at local Islamic Center.

At a hearing Tuesday, a federal magistrate ordered the couple to be held without bail, saying despite their never being in trouble with the law, she still feared that both would attempt to commit acts of terrorism.

If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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