A young Mississippi woman today pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS, half a year after she and a young man allegedly attempted to travel to Syria to join the terror group but were intercepted by the authorities.
Jaelyn Young, who was 19 when she was arrested last August, entered the plea in a Mississippi federal courthouse this afternoon, according to the Department of Justice. Her companion, Muhammad Dakhlalla, pleaded guilty to a similar charge earlier this month, court documents said.
According to the FBI, the case started when an undercover “FBI employee” came across Young’s pro-ISIS social media posts, such as one made in mid-May 2015 that said, “The only thing keeping me away is $$$ but working all this overtime will be worth [it] when I am finally there” and “I just want to be there :( #IS,” which the FBI indicated is a reference to the Islamic State or ISIS.
Young, a former honor student, explained to the FBI employee that she was attempting to go to Syria with a “brother,” identified as Dakhlalla, who was 22 years old at the time. Young said the two would have to have an Islamic marriage in order to travel together. She allegedly told another undercover FBI officer that while she had never traveled outside the U.S., she had math and chemistry skills and her partner was good with computer science and media. They could help the group, she said, they just needed assistance getting to Syria through Turkey.
The couple got as far as an airport in Columbus, Miss. in early August in hopes of heading to Turkey, but federal agents were waiting for them, according to court records.
After the couple’s arrest, a friend of Young’s from Mississippi State University told ABC News that Young was known as a “kind, bubbly person.”
“She was so smart, top of her class, studying to be a doctor,” said Crystal Worley. “It’s just so insane that this happened. It’s just really disappointing.”
The description is at odds with Young’s purported online persona and comments she made following a deadly shooting in Chattanooga the month before her arrest.
“What makes me feel bette[r] after just watching the news is that an akhi [brother] carried out an attack against US marines in TN! Alhamdulillah [Thanks be to God], the numbers of supporters are growing,” Young told one of the undercover FBI agents in a conversation online on July 17, a day after the shooting, according to the FBI. Four Marines were killed in the attack and a Navy sailor later died of his wounds.