Things not always what they seem

Published 9:24 am Friday, August 14, 2015

The FBI’s arrest of two Mississippi State University students over the past weekend for their attempt to join ISIS shows how unsuspecting and naïve some folks are when it comes to international affairs.

Jaelyn Delshaun Young, 20, and 22-year-old Muhammad Oda Dakhlalla were arrested at the Columbus, Miss., airport. The apparent plan was to enter into Syria and join the militants. They are charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS.

What could they be thinking?

Young is the daughter of a Vicksburg policeman. Gail knows the family because her ex worked for many years with the Vicksburg Police Department.

These two would probably wind up as cannon fodder being used as suicide bombers in some way.

One thing I’ve learned when traveling overseas is things don’t often appear as they seem. There are scammers everywhere trying to steal your money and valuables. I’ve seen some ingenious methods by young and old alike. You just can’t be too careful when traveling.

On my first trip to Jamaica, I roomed with Louis, a likeable fellow from Detroit, who had never been out of the country before in his life. Jamaica has a healthy black market when it comes to changing travelers checks and U.S. currency into Jamaican currency. Instead of trying to change just what he needed at the moment, Louis gave all his money to the moneychanger. He didn’t get his money back, and the culprit was never seen again. Louis was too gullible. He was warned not to change that much money, but he did it anyway.

On subsequent trips to Negril, people still talked about Louis. His plight did provide some interesting conversations.

Attending the Reggae Music Festival in Montego Bay, I caught a pickpocket trying to help himself to my wallet. I saw a big crowd at the gate and started to put my hand over my wallet. As I did that, I was holding his hand. I ripped his hand up and my wallet fell to the ground. I retrieved it and started chasing him. I stopped when I thought, what was I going to do with him if I caught him? Jamaicans don’t like thieves. Some friends suggested that the thief would have been killed on the spot if he were caught.

I’ve been the target of pre-teen thieves at the Rome train station. I saw them with cardboard sitting on a curb. They rushed up and surrounded me for distraction. One got too close, and I pushed him away. I felt his hand underneath the cardboard trying to get into my valuables pouch. Lucky for me the snap on the pouch had broken a few days earlier and I had to pin it shut. Then the little imp stuck his tongue out at me after I discovered his intention.

You just can’t be too careful. Foreign travelers are always targets. You’ve got to expect the unexpected.


Randy Hammons is a Bogalusa Daily News staff writer. He can be contacted by calling 985-732-2565 or by email at