Don Morgan of Salisbury, North Carolina, has traveled to the Middle East in an attempt to join the Islamic State group. He’s also willing to talk about it.
“It was months and months and months of asking Allah to guide me or to give me the answers I needed,” the 44-year-old father of one, former amateur bodybuilder and finance manager told NBC News during a summer interview in Beirut.
Mr. Morgan, who converted to Islam in 2007 after a divorce and now goes by Abu Omar al-Amreeki online, told NBC that he didn’t particularly take his faith seriously until he realized in 2012 “that at some point you have to make a commitment.”
He took to an online message board, pledging allegiance to Islamic State’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and beginning his quest for martyrdom.
“After a considerable amount of prayer and planning everything through, I began to dissolve my effects in the U.S., personal property, items that I owned,” he told NBC. “I began to set up things that would protect those that I was leaving behind and then, after all of that, I purchased the ticket with the intent of entering to Syria, either joining up with medical and food aid convoys or directly with Islamic State.”
After attempts to join the Islamic State failed during his time in Lebanon from January through July, Mr. Morgan decided to return to the United States to replenish his savings. He was detained in New York City at John F. Kennedy International Airport upon his return and arrested for trying to buy a rifle online, NBC News reported. Mr. Morgan, who had been previously convicted of a felony, pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors claimed during his detention hearing that he was dangerous, but his lawyers argued that wasn’t true because he never actually joined the Islamic State group in Syria.