Local couple arrested for attempting to join terrorist organization

By: 
Alex Onken
Staff Writer

Two former Mississippi State University students have confessed to attempting to travel to Turkey to join a terrorist organization this weekend, according to federal officials. The two were detained from boarding a flight on Saturday morning by federal officials at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. 
According to the criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court, Jaelyn Delshawn Young, 19, and Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, 22, were arrested for attempting and conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
According to Mike Hainsey, executive director of the airport, the two were going to Atlanta. According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Young and Dakhlalla would then fly to Amsterdam and then fly to their destination of Istanbul, Turkey.
"At no time any passengers or employees of the airport were at risk," Hainsey said. "It was all a very well coordinated operation that they arrested them."
The Transportation Security Administration, and the FBI division in Jackson would not comment on the matter Monday due to the ongoing investigation. 
According to Sid Salter, chief communications director for MSU,  law enforcement made contact with MSU police early Saturday morning regarding the arrest of the two individuals.
Dakhlalla and Young both attended MSU, with Dakhalla graduating in spring 2015 with a degree in psychology and a native of Starkville, according to Salter. Young was originally from Vicksburg and was last a sophomore chemistry student in spring 2015. She was not a currently registered for fall semester classes.
An investigation began in May, with an undercover FBI employee spotting Young as a supporter of ISIL on social media. In the report, Young stated that she was preparing to journey to Syria to join the Islamic State, with the intent to leave before August. 
Dakhlalla and Young were wed in an Islamic ceremony on June 6. She said she wanted to have children and raise them according to ISIL beliefs in conversations with another undercover FBI employee. After paying to expedite the process of obtaining passports, the couple received them at the end of July, and they had purchased their tickets last week for Delta Airlines Flight 5073.  
A warrant for their arrest was issued on August 8.
A hearing was in session on Monday, ending at 5 p.m. The hearing will continue Tuesday, according to Chad Lamar, spokesperson for the  United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Mississippi.

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