A former Palo Alto public school student has been identified as an Islamic State recruit, according to an investigative report by NBC News.
Jaffrey Khan, now 24, was identified from data leaked by a man who claimed to be an ISIS defector. He gave NBC News a thumb drive that he said he stole from an ISIS commander and smuggled in a baby's diaper, according to NBC. It contained the personnel files of thousands of foreign fighters who joined ISIS in 2013 and 2014, including some addresses. Khan was allegedly among them, according to the report.
Khan graduated from Gunn High School in 2009, according to a school district administrator. He also attended two unidentified middle schools, Gunn and an alternative high school, sometimes transferring in mid-year between the latter two, NBC said educational records show. His father, Salem Khan of Palo Alto, who is the CEO of an Internet patient acquisition and engagement company for medical offices, told NBC that his first-born son ended up in a group home at one point, and he allegedly engaged in disruptive and sometimes physical incidents while at school, according to the story.
Khan, the son of Pakistani parents, did not fit in in Palo Alto, a classmate told NBC. His parents divorced and he was mainly raised by his father. He was initially not at all religious, but his mother's husband got him interested in Islam, a cousin told NBC. He rapidly became fanatical in 2010. Khan allegedly became influenced by his Internet contacts. He met a woman, Zakia Nasrin, whom he married, through a Muslim dating service.
Khan joined ISIS on July 11, 2014, the documents show, according to NBC. He enlisted with another man, Raisel Raihan, the brother of Khan's wife. The couple, who now have a 10-month-old child, moved to Syria after living in Columbus, Ohio. Khan took the fighter name Abu Ibrahim al Amriki (The American). He and Nasrin work in a hospital in Raqqa, Syria, an ISIS stronghold, his father told NBC.
The elder Khan confirmed that his son had become radicalized, according to NBC. He told NBC reporters that he does not approve of his son's joining ISIS, but he felt he did not have any control over him once he became an adult. He said he has spoken to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Weekly has reached out to Salem Khan, but he could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jaffrey Khan did not appear to have taken part in many school activities, according to a 2007 high school yearbook. He did post a half dozen YouTube videos between 2006 and 2010. Most are typical of a teenage boy: a family birthday party, video of a younger sister and one of his cousin rapping.
But a Feb. 28, 2010, video titled, "A boy abusing his cousin," shows Khan pulling a blanket from a bunk bed and tightening it over his cousin's head. The cousin is identified in the video caption as Ahmed Khan.
After pulling the down the blanket, Jaffrey Khan said aloud: "Fighting video part 2."
"This time I'm suffocating you," he said to Ahmed, "(inaudible) ... so you can't breathe at all."
Jaffrey Khan used his arms to keep the tightly wrapped blanket over his cousin's face and urged his cousin to fight.
"C'mon, man, do something. I'm killing you," he said.
The two wrestled, Khan laughed and said, "I've got you begging for mercy," he said.
Khan finally gave up when his arm began to hurt as Ahmed held it down.
Reached at his home on Tuesday, Ahmed said that he has been asked not to talk to the media by Jaffrey Khan's mother.
One of Jaffrey Khan's Palo Alto neighbors, Lidia Mirski, said that she did not know him well, "but I didn't know he would end up this way. He had some problems, for sure."
She described the Khans as "very nice people" who moved to her neighborhood in 2002. She said the Khans had two other children and the family is "very quiet" and they get along with her.
She hadn't seen Jaffrey Khan in some time, she said, but the last time there were radical changes.
"A few years ago I saw him with a very big beard. He looked scary. He had married a girl who was completely covered with only her eyes showing. I did see him just one moment, but I didn't speak to him. He had changed a lot," she said.
NBC has identified at least 15 Americans who went overseas and became ISIS recruits.