Alabama Woman Joins Islamic State, Urges Americans to Follow Her
Muslim community leaders in Hoover, Alabama confirm that a 20-year-old woman left her family in November to join the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization in Syria.
The woman, identified only as Hoda, agreed to a series of interviews with BuzzFeed from Raqqa, Syria – the de facto Islamic State capital. Her father, a Yemeni native identified as Mohammed, said that his daughter was “brainwashed” by IS.
A series of Tweets from Hoda’s Twitter account call for other Americans to join the Islamic State and commit terrorist attacks in the United States.
On March 19 she tweeted: “Americans wake up! Men and women altogether. You have much to do while you live under our greatest enemy, enough of your sleeping! Go on drive-bys and spill all of their blood, or rent a big truck and drive all over them. Veterans, Patriot, Memorial etc Day parades..go on drive by’s + spill all of their blood or rent a big truck n drive all over them. Kill them.”
Even though Hoda had always practiced Islam, she grew more religious over the 18 months before her departure to Syria. She attributed her radicalization in part to scholars and Islamic interpretations that she found on the Internet, including lectures about Islam on YouTube.
“I started getting interested in my deen [religious life] around 2012,” Hoda told BuzzFeed. “I felt like my life was so bland without it. Life has much more meaning when u know why ur here.”
Her father said that he was proud of Hoda’s increased devotion to Islam, but claims that he “didn’t know she [was] going to go that far” and join IS.
Hoda said she started planning to move to Syria around November 2013.
“I dressed and behaved more modestly…It helped me with my temper and made me a better person overall. They [her parents] liked the change until they saw me getting ‘jihadi,'” said Hoda.
In a phone call, Hoda told her father that she left for Syria because she believed every true Muslim had to travel to the Islamic State if they wanted to reach heaven, and she encouraged her parents to join her.
Six Somali-American men from Minnesota were charged Monday with conspiring to provide support for IS and planning to join the terrorist organization. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said that the men devoted significant efforts in the past year to reach Syria.
“These were not confused young men, they were not easily influenced,” Luger said. “These were focused young men who were intent on joining a terrorist organization.”
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.