A former cheerleader, chemistry major and homecoming maid has admitted to supporting the Islamic State (Isis). Jaelyn Young, 20, from Vicksburg, Mississippi, pleaded guilty in a federal court to one count of conspiring to provide material support to the Islamist group, responsible for thousands of deaths in the Middle East and around the world.
Young, the daughter of a policeman and Navy veteran mother, converted to Islam in March 2015, wearing a burqa and calling for the implementation of Sharia in the US. She began condemning the treatment of Muslims in the US and UK and expressed support for a video in which a gay man was thrown from a roof, said prosecutors.
Young distanced herself from former friends and began to express a hatred for her country. When an Islamist shot five people at a barracks in Chattanooga, she is said to have written: "What makes me feel better after watching the news is that an akhi carried out an attack against US marines in TN! Alhamdulillah, the numbers of supports are growing..."
Young's partner, Muhammad Dakhlalla, had already pleaded guilty to a similar charge, but the court heard it was Young who was constantly urging him to travel with her to Syria to join IS. In a farewell letter to her family read out to the jury, she wrote: "I found the contacts, made arrangements, planned the departure. I am guilty of what you soon will find out."
The couple hoped to work as medics for IS. Young tweeted that she wanted to be in Syria but could not afford it.
The pair planned to pose as honeymooners but ruled that out. They were eventually arrested on 8 August 2015 before boarding a plane from Mississippi to Istanbul with tickets Young had bought using her unsuspecting mother's credit card.
After admitting the charges in court in Aberdeen, Mississippi, Young faces up to 20 years in prison. She could also receive a fine of up to $250,000 (£173,866). She and Dakhlalla will both be sentenced at a later date.