Five ISIS related arrests with ties to the Northern Virginia area have been made within months of each other. Tuesdays Brussels attacks that killed at least 31 people have raised questions in the area, especially in light of these recent arrests.
Seventeen-year-old Ali Shukri Amin of Manassas was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. In addition to helping 18-year-old Reza Niknejad of Prince William County travel to Syria, Amin also admitted using Twitter and other social media to solicit donations and support for the Islamic State.
In January, Joseph Hassan Farrokh, 28, and Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan, 25, both of Woodbridge were charged with terrorism offenses related to trying to travel to Syria to join ISIL. And Mohamad Jamal Khweis, 26, from Alexandria, was an American Islamic State group fighter who handed himself over to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq just this month.
Seamus Hughes, Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University's Center for Cyber & Homeland Security says if there is one thing that ties all of these Northern Virginia ISIS cases together, its that Northern Virginia is getting increased attention from the U.S. security officials for this activity. Hughes also explained that, "Northern Virginia has a disproportionate number of people that are drawn to this, and it's also an interesting case study in terms of the profile of an ISIS recruit, and by that I mean there is no profile, it's the old the young the rich the poor, you've got a 17 year old kid from Northern Virginia, and a 25 year old guy who wants to go to Syria and Iraq so there's not ONE profile so it's very difficult for Law enforcement to prevent that."
The unknown is also terrifying. Reza Niknejad of Prince William County was dropped off at Dulles International Airport last year to join ISIS and that was the last place anyone saw him. A huge concern is how many other Reza Niknejads are out in Northern Virginia who have goals of fighting for ISIS, either overseas, or in the area.