Director Barnes spoke yesterday, August 11th, with WLBT's Marsha Thompson regarding terrorism prevention efforts in the state and what Mississippians can do to help law enforcement:
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
The Director of Mississippi's Homeland Security office tells us Jaelyn Young claims she and Mohammad Dahklalla were married June 6. According to the director, the ISIL supporters intended to celebrate their honeymoon in Syria . "The ISIS threat is real in this country," said Congressman Bennie Thompson months ago. That rang true in Mississippi with the arrest of two accused young ISIL recruits; A case being investigated by the FBI Jackson's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
"We would be remiss to think that Mississippi would not be a prime target," said Mississippi's Homeland Security Director Rusty Barnes. He says that while Mississippi is not a high profile state, It could be prime breeding ground to operate and recruit for terrorist group. "They feel like we are a soft target here and we are not high profile," said Barnes. "So they feel like we would be a soft target and we just have to remain vigilant on our day to day activities." Barnes said ISIS also known as ISIL looks for lone wolfs, troubled souls and that female recruits were priority.
"It's the kind of situation where you have an individual that may be disenfranchised or trying to support a cause," added Barnes. "We also tell them (our agents) not to look only at someone from a certain geographic area."
Five-hundred-fifty women from the United States have attempted to join in the terrorist conflict. In the past 10 months alone US intelligence agencies have been able to thwart recruiting with arrests nationwide. "There have been 57 arrests in the past 10 months in 20 states," said Barnes.
An FBI affidavit said they both left farewell letters to their parents saying they would never return. In stark reality, they never left; arrested just before boarding a flight with tickets to Istanbul, Turkey. Any thoughts of an Islamic honeymoon in Syria ended with the possibility of 20 years in prison. Both Young and 22 year old Muhammad "Mo" Dakhlalla face charges of Conspiracy and attempt to provide material support to ISIL.
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Posted by Marsha Thompson
*Note: While the article claims the couple were married on June 6th, that has not been confirmed.