An American couple from Mississippi has been arrested for planning their honeymoon to Syria … to join ISIS.
The Justice Department said the arrests were part of a continuing effort to stanch the flow of Americans seeking to fight in the Middle East after being lured by online recruiters to join groups the American government has designated terrorist organizations.
The couple, Jaelyn Delshaun Young, 19, and Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, 22, were on their way to the airport in Columbus, Miss., on Saturday when they were arrested by F.B.I. agents after unwittingly making travel plans with undercover federal agents on social media that included discussing a trip to Syria via Greece and Turkey as a honeymoon ruse.
“Our story will be that we are newlyweds on our honeymoon,” Ms. Young wrote in an email to a federal agent posing as an Islamic State recruiter, according to the criminal complaint.
Citing the methodical planning of the couple, Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander in Oxford, Miss., ordered the two held without bail, pending possible charges by a federal grand jury.
The arrests were the latest in an effort by the Justice Department to stop people from traveling to Syria, Iraq and elsewhere by making arrests before they board flights out of the country.
In Chicago on Tuesday, Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 21, of Aurora, Ill., who was arrested in April 2013 while trying to board a plane to Istanbul to join the Nusra Front, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group.
Mr. Tounisi, who faces a possible 15 years in prison, had conducted several months of research on the Qaeda-affiliated group and had also been in contact with federal agents online posing as recruiters.
On Monday in California, the Justice Department said Adam Dandach, 21, of Orange, Calif., pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and making a false statement in a passport application after he had sought to travel to Syria.
“This case demonstrates the need for continued vigilance and swift action to fight the false allure of foreign terrorist organizations that threaten the security of the United States,” Eileen M. Decker, United States attorney for the Central District of California, said in a statement.
The Mississippi newlyweds, Ms. Young and Mr. Dakhlalla, who married on June 6, had also been in contact with federal agents posing as Islamic State recruiters.
The authorities said the couple, from Starkville, Miss., boasted to the undercover agent that they were unlikely to encounter any trouble because the airport in Columbus, where they would catch a flight, had little security.
“We live in a small town with a very small airport that doesn’t have much, if any, security,” Ms. Young wrote on Aug. 4. “That’s one U.S. weaknesses— small towns’ airports have poor funding and less educated staffs so it is easier to get through.”
In another email message, Ms. Young, a former chemistry major at Mississippi State University, said Mr. Dakhlalla was worried about being arrested by the Turkish authorities once they arrived in Istanbul.
Five days later, federal agents arrested the couple as they arrived for their flight at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport in Columbus.
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