Father: "My little daughter going to join ISIS"

Posted at 5:42 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 12:27:31-05

One father may speak in the shadows to protect his child, but he is speaking out on an alarming trend.

The terror group ISIS is aggressively attempting to recruit young people to join their cause.

"This is my little daughter going to join ISIS," he says in an interview, his face and name hidden. "That's just the worst thing you can think about."

More than a year ago, his then 15-year-old daughter and two friends boarded a flight from Denver to Turkey with a stop-over in Germany.

The father had no clue until his daughter didn't get off the school bus that day. He soon discovered her passport was missing and she had tweeted on social media, "...make du'a for me..."

"That means she asked people to ask God to help her with what she is going to do," says her father. He knew, "something horrible happened."

He looked up his daughter's cell phone activity online and discovered she made calls to Lufthansa Airlines, and to a cab driver. The father called the driver, who confirmed he dropped off the three teenage girls at the departures curb at Denver International Airport.

"To be honest, I just cried. I don't remember the last time I cried, but on that day, I cried a lot," he says.

The girls were already on their way halfway around the world.

"My heart just dropped, because I knew, if she got there and crossed into Syria, nobody would be able to get her back," he says.

This father would soon learn ISIS recruiters had been grooming his daughter online for more than a year.

"She's just like any teenager," he says. "Social media makes it easy for ISIS to get to our kids."

The father, whose family is Muslim, says he is your typical engaged parent with a close relationship with his daughter. And like many parents, he had no idea what his daughter was doing online.

"The internet is a very powerful tool and groups of like ISIS and Al Qaeda have used it for several years now to their advantage," says former FBI special agent Dan Roberts.

The 7 Investigators have been reporting on ISIS' online recruitment tactics for more than a year.

"They are very good at it," says Roberts.

We know of several local cases in which young men have either posted messages sympathetic to ISIS online or, in the case of a local man just this week, have come under federal investigation for plotting to carryout ISIS style attacks.

Khalil Abu Rayyan was in federal court after the FBI revealed they had been watching him for months.

Authorities say the 21-year-old from Dearborn Heights chatted online with an undercover agent, pledging a mass shooting at a Detroit mega church and saying it was his dream to behead someone.

According to federal documents, Rayyan's father found an AK-47, mask and bullets in his son's car - apparently intercepted before he could carry out an attack.

All these cases have one thing in common: social media - either as a bragging point or a tool used to recruit. 

The daughter was just hours away from ISIS' strong-hold in Syria, but a quick-thinking call to the FBI got them stopped in Germany before they could board their connecting flight.