20-year-old American pleads guilty to joining ISIS

In latest case of radicalization, 20-year-old Mississippi woman pleads guilty to conspiracy charges after attempting to join ISIS.

Ben Ariel ,

ISIS flag (illustration)
ISIS flag (illustration)

A 20-year-old Mississippi woman accused of attempting to leave the United States and join the Islamic State (ISIS) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in connection with her arrest, WTVA-TV reported on Tuesday.

Jaelyn Young, of Vicksburg, entered a guilty plea during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen.

She was accused of attempting to board a flight at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in August with Muhammed Dakhlalla and fly to Turkey with the intent to cross into Syria and join the terror group.

Dakhlalla has already pleaded guilty to charges connected to the case and awaits sentencing.

According to the Reuters news agency, Young posted on Twitter about her desire to join the jihadist group, catching the attention of the FBI in May 2015. An agent posing as an Islamic State recruiter began corresponding with her and Dakhlalla.

Young and Dakhlalla told the supposed recruiter they would help Islamic State "correct the falsehoods" about it in U.S. news media, such as reports that the group trades young girls as sex slaves, according to court records cited by the news agency.

They also asked the recruiter whether ISIS would offer Koran classes in English, how they would be required to prove that they were Sunni Muslims, and what kind of military training Dakhlalla would receive.

Both Dakhlalla and Young, of Starkville, Mississippi, are U.S. citizens. Young converted to Islam in March 2015.

Young was a student at Mississippi State, according to WTVA-TV, and prosecutors recommended she be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

She is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

The case is another illustration of the phenomenon of radicalization which has manifested itself not only in the United States, but also in Europe and Australia.

Earlier this month, 32-year-old Mufid Elfgeeh from Rochester in upstate New York was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison after trying to recruit FBI informants to ISIS.

Also this past month, an American Air Force veteran who tried to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS was found guilty of trying to provide the jihadist group with material support.

Previous examples include the case of a 23-year-old recently arrested by the FBI for planning a shooting attack in Milwaukee. The man, Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, was found to have originally planned to attack Israelis.

In December 2015, a Pennsylvania teenager was indicted after investigators said he tried to help individuals travel to the Middle East to join ISIS.

The phenomenon was perhaps best recently illustrated in the December shooting attack in San Bernardino, California, where the attackers are believed to have been radicalized for quite some time.