Teen Girl Accused of Trying to Join ISIS Is 'Kind, Bubbly Person,' Friend Says

Jaelyn Young allegedly confessed to trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

ByABC News
August 12, 2015, 5:33 PM

— -- A 19-year-old Mississippi student who is accused of attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS is a smart and “kind, bubbly person,” according to a college friend.

Jaelyn Delshaun Young of Starkville, Mississippi, and her companion, 22-year-old Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla, planned for months to travel to Turkey in order to slip into Syria and join ISIS, according to the FBI. They were caught after allegedly engaging in online conversations with undercover FBI agents posing as terrorist sympathizers.

Crystal Worley, a college friend of Young, told ABC News she was shocked and didn’t imagine Young to be “that kind of person.”

Worley, who hasn’t spoken to Young in a few months, said Young came from a good family and was very sociable in college.

"She was so smart. Top of her class, studying to be a doctor," Worley said. "It’s just so insane that this happened. It’s just really disappointing. ... She is a kind, bubbly person."

"I know the kind of person that she is and this doesn't make any sense," Worley added.

Young was described by the Vicksburg Post as a high school honors student. She was also a member of the homecoming court and the robotics team.

A former teacher, R.J. Morgan, described her as smart, intelligent, polite and insightful. "Not radical in any way," Morgan said.

Young attended Mississippi State and originally planned to become a doctor, the Vicksburg Post said.

The FBI said she expressed interest in “giving medical aid to the injury [sic]” once she got to Syria.

Young reportedly told an undercover FBI agent: "I am skilled in math and chemistry and worked at an analytical lab here at my college campus."

Young is also the daughter of Leonce Young, a Vicksburg police officer. Leonce Young is a 17-year veteran of the Vicksburg police and served 21 years in the military, the Vicksburg Police Department said.

"The family is devastated and it is our understanding had no knowledge of or involvement in Jaelyn’s plans," the Vicksburg Police Department said in a statement. "We understand that the Young’s [sic] love their daughter and have supported her educational career and will stand by her through the legal process. At this time the Young family is going through an extremely difficult time and we would like to keep them in our thoughts and prayers."

The FBI said the couple had their passports and plane tickets to Turkey when they were stopped in a small Mississippi airport, where they allegedly confessed their plans.

The couple has been formally charged with attempting to support a terrorist organization.

On Tuesday, a federal magistrate judge ordered the pair held without bail, pending a grand jury action on the charges against them, according to ABC affiliate WAPT-TV in Jackson.

Young's family declined comment Tuesday night and the public defender asked for privacy.

Dennis Harmon, a local attorney representing Dakhlallah’s family and who has known them since Muhammad Dakhlallah was a child, told ABC News Dakhlallah’s parents are “pretty shook up” over their son’s arrest.

“You know if you’ve been hit right between the eyes, you’re still shaking your head, trying to clear things up? That’s where they are right now,” Harmon said. The last the family knew, Dakhlallah was supposed to begin graduate school in psychology at Mississippi State on Monday, Harman said.

Harmon said the family is cooperating with investigators and that they trust the FBI to ferret out the facts of the case.

ABC News' Lee Ferran and Jenna Harrison contributed to this report.