Jeffrey Ringel Quoted in The Atlantic: The Mississippi College Students Who Tried to Join ISIS
May 1, 2017

The Mississippi College Students Who Tried to Join ISIS

The Atlantic
By: Emma Green


The day she left to join the Islamic State, Jaelyn Young took a floral backpack with clothes, craft supplies, and a scrapbook. Muhammad Dakhlalla, whose friends call him Moe, packed a bar of soap, gray sweats, and a pack of Starburst minis. She was organized: Her wallet held bank cards and insurance cards, plus a Sonic receipt tucked inside. He loved video games: His only t-shirt featured the robots of Portal 2. On that hot August day, they were headed to Turkey, on their way to Syria …

They were arrested while preparing to board their flight. Jaelyn and Moe weren’t actually talking to ISIS recruiters. Their contacts had been undercover FBI employees the whole time …

It’s difficult to establish how, exactly, the FBI identifies terrorism suspects. “One [way] could be that [they] have a source,” said Jeffrey Ringel, a 21-year veteran of the Bureau now with The Soufan Group, a security-focused consulting firm. When they find potential targets online, they give the information to the FBI: “‘Hey, somebody new just came onto this website, this is their Twitter handle, this is their email address,’” Ringel said. Alternatively, agents might monitor social media or known recruiting sites themselves …


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