Mississippi couple who joined ISIS to be sentenced

Federal judge schedules sentencing for Mississippi couple who pleaded guilty to planning to travel to Syria and join ISIS.

Ben Ariel ,

ISIS flag (illustration)
ISIS flag (illustration)

A federal judge has scheduled sentencing next month for a Mississippi couple who pleaded guilty to planning to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist group, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

Online court records show that sentencing for Jaelyn Young, who left her parents a note saying she had planned it all, is scheduled for August 11. Sentencing for Young’s fiance, Muhammad Dakhlalla, will be on August 24, according to AP.

Authorities say undercover agents got in touch with the couple after they sought online help traveling to Syria.

Young was 20 years old and Dakhlalla was 22 years old when they were arrested on August 8, 2015, in Columbus, Mississippi, where they were about to board a flight to Istanbul, with plans to go from there to Syria.

Both pleaded guilty in March to one count of aiding a terrorist organization. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime on supervised release, which could mean a return to prison if they violate any of its terms, noted AP.

Both plea agreements state that prosecutors did not promise a specific sentence.

Young, the daughter of a school administrator and a police officer who served in the Navy reserve, was an honor student, cheerleader and homecoming maid at Vicksburg’s Warren Central High School.

Prosecutors have said Young converted to Islam while studying chemistry at Mississippi State University, and was led toward ISIS in part by online videos.

Like Young herself, prosecutors have said she’s the one who prodded Dakhlalla into the plan to join the terrorists.

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.

Several months ago, 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.

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.