Spotlight Lands on Three Ohioans Recruited by ISIS

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NBC News reports that they have identified 15 U.S recruits to ISIS, three of whom are from Ohio. In March, NBC was given a thumb drive from someone claiming to be an ISIS defector with thousands of ISIS fighters’ files. That’s how it was discovered that Jaffrey Kahn, Rasel Raihan and Zakia Nasrin joined ISIS. 

Kahn grew up in Northern California, getting into trouble since a very young age. His cousin thought that introducing him to Islam could help him clean his act. Rapidly changing from an atheist to a devoted Muslim, Kahn's parents believed he was brainwashed from his extremist internet contacts.

"He'd say that we live in a country with non-believers. And he said we're surrounded by a bunch of sinful people and we should move to a Muslim country," Ahmed, Kahn’s cousin told NBC News. "[He was] always talking about fighting and 'We have to kill these non-Muslim people, they're raping our women and killing our people.' Those kind of things."

Watch the full Dateline report here:


Next, Kahn set out on the internet to find a wife on a Muslim dating site, which is how he found Nasrin. Nasrin immigrated to Ohio in 2000 from Bangladesh with her brother, Raihan, and her parents. Growing up, Nasrin attended Metro Early College High School in Columbus, receiving a 4.0; she was one of the top in her class.

"She was probably one of the smartest and most functioning people in the school, and that was a pretty high standard," Zach Brazik, a student who went to Metro High School with Nasrin, told NBC News.

Nasrin soon moved to California to marry Kahn, and both returned to Ohio so that Nasrin could attend The Ohio State University. In 2013, Raihan, suffering from depression, was influenced by his sister to convert to Islam. Raihan soon moved in with Nasrin and Kahn, living in an building former home to Christopher Paul, an American arrested for training al-Qaeda bomb-makers to attack U.S and European targets.

In May 2014, all three disappeared. Two months later it was known that they were in Syria, specifically Tel Abyad, a city captured by ISIS. While Kahn and Nasrin are now working in a hospital in Raqqa, ISIS’s main location in Syria, it’s said that Raihan was killed.

"I don't have any communication with them and I don't want to have anything to do with them," Mohammad Mannan, Nasrin and Raihan’s father told NBC News. "I don't even want to see their faces."

Stopping terrorists from recruiting young Americans is a top priority for the FBI. Recently the Cleveland FBI came out saying that their focus for counter-terrorism activity is putting a stop ISIS’s use of social media to recruit. But still, it’s reported that 250 Americans have already traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The threat of ISIS recruitment is something that can be reached out to anyone, but could be better prevented with the help of family members.

"It's so important that if a family knows that someone has traveled, that they communicate and go into law enforcement," Assistant Attorney General and point person on national security, John Carlin told NBC News. “You don't want your loved one being killed overseas. You don't want your loved one killing other people overseas.”

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