By: ANI | New York |
Updated: December 4, 2016 6:43:45 pm
Updated: December 4, 2016 6:43:45 pm
Muhammad Dakhlalla aka Mo is at the start of an eight-year prison sentence for trying to join and help the Islamic State (ISIS), which he says was because he was deeply in love with a girl. In his senior year at Mississippi State (USA), he met and fell for Jaelyn Young, a sophomore studying chemistry and who was also interested in Islam, the religion in which Mo grew up as his father, Oda, is an imam and his mother, Lisa, a New Jersey-born woman who converted to Islam.
His parents helped found and build the Islamic Center of Mississippi in Starkville, reports CNN. It was not long after they became a couple, Jaelyn converted to Islam and it was a complete surprise to Mo. Then came another surprise, he said. Jaelyn was changing fast, he said, becoming stricter and more conservative in all parts of her life. But, he said, he was deeply in love and his intelligence and reasoning was blinded. His words shed light on just how powerful ISIS’ online propaganda can be for American youths.
Pursuing her conversion and new religion, Jaelyn went to the Internet and there, she found ISIS. Jaelyn merely showed Mo the videos — the clips did the rest. “It started out with when … she first became Muslim, you know, she wanted to learn more. … I’m not sure how she came across some of the videos that she did at first, but I remember, like, some of them. Like, one of the first ones I remember seeing, a video that how ISIS came to be. And it was basically mentioning … historical struggles in the Middle East. And then somehow it ties that back into, you know, everything is, like, the Western society’s fault. You would see a lot of non-Muslims using like, vulgar language, and a whole lot of slander on top of that.”
Mo followed Jaelyn’s lead. He said the goal was never to take part in jihad or commit violence — but rather to help out as fellow Muslims in the newly forming Muslim state. “When she first looked at these videos, she had … a strong belief that, ‘OK, this is the group to really help out, you know, the Muslims,” he said.
The young lover said he did what his partner did. They began communicating through the Internet with people they thought were in ISIS, in Syria.
According to the FBI, Jaelyn reached out to a contact she thought would help her and Mo travel to Turkey, cross the border into Syria and join ISIS. The two secretly married, began an intensive preparation period and bought one-way plane tickets to Istanbul. And on August 8, 2015, Mo and Jaelyn packed their bags and went to the airport near Columbus, Mississippi. They got as far as the boarding gate, and then they were arrested.
This past spring they both pleaded guilty, and they were sentenced in August. Mo was given a lighter sentence, citing his cooperation with authorities. Jaelyn, considered by authorities to be the mastermind, was sentenced to 12 years.
Mo now regrets that during this time of confusion, especially about religion, he failed to reach out to his dad, an imam who would have never taught his son to kill or hurt anyone. Asked about homegrown terrorists, or those in ISIS who have viciously killed innocents across Europe and in Syria, Mo said he would never wish to be part of anything like that.
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