US woman allegedly sought to join al-Qaeda in Syria

The woman's conversations were actually with FBI employees posing as members of the designated terrorist organization.

al-monitor The seal of the FBI hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington, DC.  Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Jul 27, 2020

A US woman has been arrested for allegedly attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda, the US Department of Justice said Friday.

Jill Marie Jones, from Arizona, was arrested Wednesday. She communicated with two undercover FBI employees, one of whom she thought was a member of al-Qaeda. Jones allegedly agreed to send the purported al-Qaeda member money to buy rifle scopes for killing American soldiers and sent a prepaid gift card worth $500 to the purported al-Qaeda member in May, according to a Department of Justice press release. Al-Qaeda is a designated terrorist organization in the United States.

Jones bought a flight to Turkey and planned to travel to Syria to join al-Qaeda there, but was arrested at the airport in Arizona, the department said.

“Supporting AQ against the oppressors would be an honour,” Jones allegedly told one of the FBI employees in an online conversation, according to court documents.

Al-Qaeda was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The group has received less international attention since its Iraqi affiliate went on its own and became the Islamic State (IS) in 2014. Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, was one of the most powerful Syrian rebel groups until 2016, when it decided to formally separate from al-Qaeda. The Syrian group is now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and is the dominant force in Idlib — the last rebel stronghold in Syria.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to Al-Monitor’s request for the contact information of Jones’ lawyer.

Some people criticize the tactics by which US government agents pose as terrorists in order to entrap people for alleged terrorism crimes. According to a 2015 article in The Intercept, a mentally ill, impoverished man named Sami Osmakac was charged with terrorism-related offenses after making a “martyrdom video.” The FBI provided all the weapons seen in the video and offered no evidence he was connected to international terrorist organizations, according to the outlet.

This is the second case involving US citizens allegedly committing crimes related to al-Qaeda this summer. In June, the Department of Justice alleged that a US Army soldier helped a neo-Nazi group plan an attack on his own unit in Turkey. The neo-Nazi organization’s leader had once pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

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