A Mississippi woman who once sought to disguise a planned journey to join ISIS as her honeymoon was sentenced by a federal judge on Thursday to 12 years in prison on a terrorism charge.
Vicksburg native Jaelyn Young broke down in heavy sobs during her sentencing by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock. Young pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Shehad faced up to 20 years in prison.
Her parents pleaded for leniency at Thursday’s hearing. Young said she was ashamed of her actions.
Her fiance, Muhammad Dakhlalla, pleaded guilty March 11 to a similar charge and is set to be sentenced Aug. 24. Prosecutors have said Young, who converted to Islam while studying at Mississippi State University, had prodded Dakhlalla into the plan.
The two were arrested in 2015 before boarding a flight from Columbus, Mississippi, with tickets for Istanbul, Turkey. At one point, Young said she planned to camouflage the couple’s journey as a honeymoon, but later dropped that idea.
“I found the contacts, made arrangements, planned the departure,” Young had written in a farewell letter to her family. “I am guilty of what you soon will find out.”
Young and Dakhlalla were among a number of people arrested around the country for ISIS sympathies. Like many, authorities said, they had developed views supporting the terror group in part by watching online videos and were arrested after social media posts attracted the attention of the FBI.
The daughter of a school administrator and a police officer who served in the Navy reserve, Young is a former honor student, cheerleader and homecoming maid at Vicksburg’s Warren Central High School.
The two were arrested in August 2015 before they could board the flight from Mississippi with tickets for Istanbul purchased using her mother’s credit card without permission, according to court records. Authorities said the couple had contacted undercover federal agents in May, seeking online help in traveling to Syria. Both remained jailed in Oxford since their arrests.