AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Terrorism ties in South Carolina. This week, a judge sentenced 20-year-old Zakaryia Abdin to 20 years in prison for attempting to join the terrorist group ISIS and participate in an attack against Americans. We unravel the disturbing details of the case and signs that someone you love is being radicalized.
Federal court documents reveal Abdin wanted to become an ISIS soldier and kill Americans wherever the organization directed him. Agents say Abdin began his efforts 2 years ago when he was 18.
How did he get connected to ISIS? Social media.
“In reality it gives other people access to them, in a way to influence them, in a way that you would not appreciate.” Cyber security expert Dave Besel say it’s a powerful attraction. “Make things look flashy, make things look fun, and say hey this is paradise, if you want to join us in paradise then look at this.”
With technology and social media being quick and easy to use, some parents may have concerns about their child getting involved with groups such as ISIS. So what do you do if you feel like your child could be potentially recruited?
“When they start to kind of internalize and find themselves more online than normal, and they don’t want to share with what they are talking about as a parent it’s key to keep the communication open,” says Besel. And there are warning signs. “Different language, different slang, just kind of one of those ‘that was weird, I’ve never heard that before.’ And then they start to internalize and then their friends start to change who they are or they start to hang out with them less and less.”
Court records show Abdin thought he was messaging his new ISIS friends that he felt alone in the U.S. and to “let the brothers know I am coming very soon.” The undercover FBI agents who received that message halted those plans.