ABERDEEN – Jaelyn Delshaun Young, once a high school cheerleader and university student, admitted Tuesday that she tried to join the Islamic State terrorist organization.
A 20-year-old Warren County native, Young pleaded guilty to one federal charge that she conspired to provide material support to ISIS, also called ISIL.
Young and her fiance’, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 23, a former Mississippi State student who entered a guilty plea to ISIS-related charges earlier this month, were arrested in 2015 on suspicion of conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS.
She entered the U.S. District courtroom with wrists and ankles shackled, and leaned forward at the waist toward the podium microphone to respond to Chief Judge Sharion Aycock’s questions.
“Yes ma’am,” she responded when Aycock asked if she were guilty.
The prosecutor, assistant U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner, told Aycock that between May 2015 and Aug. 8, 2015, Young knew ISIL was a terrorist organization and sought “to provide personnel” to the group.
In an Aug. 8, 2015, complaint filed by the FBI, Young was reported living in Starkville, had been a college student there, worked in a campus laboratory and repeatedly had online contact about her plans to fly from Columbus to Amsterdam, Netherlands, and on to Istanbul, Turkey.
The FBI also said she and Dakhlalla admitted they were trying to join ISIS. They apparently purchased flight tickets with her mother’s credit card, without her mother’s permission.
Her plea came before a small audience of reporters, attorneys and Young’s parents, who listened with sober expressions on their faces. Her father is a police officer.
He told the court that if the case had gone to trial, the government could have proved Young sought to join ISIL. He quoted some of Young’s online conversations with undercover FBI agents.
“I need help crossing from Turkey to Syria,” Joyner said she told them, adding as a chemistry student that she offered to help with medical aid and Dakhlalla with media for the organization.
The pair apparently left letters for their families, saying they were gone.
On March 11, Dakhlalla pleaded guilty to one count of seeking to provide “material support or resources” to the terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime on supervised release.
With her guilty plea agreement, signed March 22, Young faces similar punishment.
Their classifications as “terrorists” forecasts the likelihood of lengthy sentences.
However, Aycock is not bound by what their pre-sentence reports advise about punishment.
“Do you understand that the guidelines are not mandatory?” Aycock asked her.
“Yes, ma’am,” Young responded.
Before entering her plea, the petite former homecoming maid and honor student sat at a table with her attorneys Dennis Sweet III and Dennis Sweet IV of Jackson. She wore a two-piece, orange inmate uniform with “Lafayette County Detention Center” stamped across the back of her slender shoulders.Joyner, in reading her plea agreement, said Young will not face any other charges related to the current issues.
Aycock did not set a sentence date. After pleading guilty, Young returned to the custody of U.S. Marshals.