Woodbridge, VA — A 17-year-old student from Woodbridge, Virginia, is in federal custody after allegedly helping an 18-year-old travel to Syria to join ISIS.
The arrest of a suburban Washington, D.C., teenager allegedly willing to help ISIS is becoming a familiar scenario — a young person radicalized by Internet propaganda?
Yet Americans have traditionally cherished the right to travel, to leave a country (including this one) along with the right to hold their own opinions about who the ‘good guys’ vs. the ‘bad guys’ are. The U.S. doesn’t exactly have clean hands. Nor has Congress declared war on Syria or any faction within it. There may be federal laws against ‘aiding and abetting the “enemy”‘, yet defining the term according to administrative fiat rather than due process undermines Constitutional principles. Americans have always felt at liberty, under those circumstances, to determine who is an ‘enemy’ according to their own lights. Nor are all enemies foreign, the U.S. Constitution mentions our right to defend against domestic ones.
Just who gets to decide who/what is an ‘enemy’ of America seems critical when federal authorities are throwing children into prison for nothing more than assisting the travel plans of a friend/acquaintance. Indeed, the present circumstances appear to be cut from the warp and weave of ‘thought crime’! The U.S. Administration itself seems to be confused about just who it’s friend/allies vs. ‘enemies’ in the middle eastern conflict are. That confusion should not be allowed to translate to criminal liability for idealistic children. Here, internet activities alone (or thoughts expressed in public communications there) were deemed sufficient to stigmatize and criminalize young people in the throes of sorting out their own identities.
The Osbourn Park High School student from Woodbridge, Virginia, is in custody, accused of helping another young man travel to Syria to join ISIS. Little has been made public about this latest arrest because the suspect is 17 and being treated as a juvenile while the prosecution seeks to have him tried in adult court.
The arrest took place Friday, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the arrest.
Authorities say the person whom the teen helped travel to Syria will soon be charged with material support to a terrorist organization. [It’s oft been said one man’s ‘terrorist’ is another man’s ‘freedom fighter’. The British categorized American minute men as ‘terrorists’ during our war of independence.] That person’s identity wasn’t released, but he’s believed to be not much older than the high school student. Officials say the student, who is Muslim, used the Internet to help make travel arrangements for the other young man to get to Syria and to find contacts there.
In one of their regular advisories to local law enforcement, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said the case is another demonstration that young people are using social media for jihadist ends. [What happened to the Constitutional right of ‘freedom of association’?–or ‘expression’ for that matter. Short of a declaration of war, Americans have the legal and inalienable right to choose their own ‘friends’, as well as ‘enemies’! They could hardly do worse, in that regard, than the U.S. Administration itself.]
The Prince William County Schools said Wednesday that they were not aware of any security threats surrounding the arrested teen. “There is no indication that our students are being specifically targeted to support extremist causes,” the statement said.
[“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue.
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice.” -Barry Goldwater-]