There have been reports that many of the Islamic State recruits that came from the US are in fact well-educated men who come from middle-class families, but for most of us, this is hard to believe. Why would anyone exchange a happy carefree life in Texas to go and fight a war in Syria?
When it comes to the Ali family in Plano, this setup proved to be absolutely true, but no one saw it coming. Neighbors described the Ali family as friendly and quiet with a father who would play tennis with neighbors and as people you could easily have a conversation with. But a darker truth was revealed during their trial.
The boys went off to fight in Syria whilst the parents lied to the FBI about their whereabouts. No one knows where Arman, 27 years old, and Omar Ali, 26 years old currently are or if they even survived the Syrian war, but their parents are set to be sentenced for lying to the FBI tomorrow.
Mr. Mohommad Ali, 57 years old, still declines to talk to the press about his sons. But when he was interviewed by the FBI in 2015, he lied to them about their whereabouts, telling inspectors they were still in Cairo, Egypt.
His wife, Ms. Sumaiya Ali, 49 years old, also stated to the FBI her sons were in Egypt studying, that they were “very reserved” and had not made friends.
The court documents show that Mr. Ali “advised that his sons were peaceful, liked to study, and never indicated they would be affiliated with any terrorist group.”
But on emails discovered on the family computer, there is evidence to the contrary.
Already in March 2015, Arman sent his father an email from Syria: “Things are heating up here, and I can’t guarantee me or Omar will be there in 2 months… I’ve been to the hospital every day with brothers from my group. Close friends have died, too many injured. Me and Omar are perfectly fine right now, but soon we may not be.”
Their sons had in fact left for the battlefield as from 2014 to fight alongside ISIS, with the blessing of the parents. The mother told her son Omar via email in 2014: “Do what you need to do.” Her boy Omar responds: “Ok then going to Syria it is.”
In October 2014, Omar emailed his mother again: “Allah tells the Muslim to fight, kill and exile those who wage war against Allah or His messenger.”
The brothers, who also have a younger sister who was not named in the court documents, went to Rice Middle School and the moved on to Plano Senior High School.
Oldest brother Arman attended the University of Texas from 2008 to 2011.
US District Judge Marcia A. Crone will sentence the parents on Thursday.