Mom to Terrorist Groups: “Leave Our Children Alone”

Zarine Khan lashes out at ISIS and other groups like it after her son, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, pleads not guilty to charges he tried to join Islamic State militants in Syria

The mother of a 19-year-old suburban Chicago man facing a terrorist charge had strong words for ISIS and groups like it: "Leave our children alone."

Zarine Khan spoke to reporters after her son, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, entered a not guilty plea to charges he tried to join Islamic State militants in Syria. An indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week alleged he attempted to provide "material support to a terrorist organization."

"The venom spewed by these groups and the violence committed by them find no support in the Quran and are completely at odds with our Islamic faith," Zarine Khan said, referencing the recent attacks in Paris. 

"We condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms. We condemn the brutal tactics of ISIS and groups like it. And we condemn the brainwashing and recruiting of children through the use of social media and the Internet," she said, adding: "And we have a message for ISIS, [Islamic State leader Sabah] Baghdadi and his fellow Social Media recruiters: Leave Our children alone."

Mohammed Khan lived with his parents in Bolingbrook but has been in custody since his October arrest at O'Hare International Airport. 

A conviction carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. Khan's attorney said his client appeared to have fallen under the influence of Islamic State propaganda but has also described the government's case as weak.

A follow-up court appearance was scheduled for March 3.

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