Friend of Henrico ISIS supporter says she was 'brainwashed'

Friend of Henrico ISIS supporter says she was 'brainwashed'

HENRICO, VA (WWBT)

A close friend of the Henrico woman charged with lying to the FBI about supporting ISIS, is opening up about why she believes Heather Coffman was brainwashed.

Angela Burton says Coffman started to drastically change her beliefs, only a year ago. However, Burton was stunned to learn that Coffman would have any alleged involvement with a terrorist group.

Burton described Coffman, a single mother whom she befriended six years ago, as caring and happy, for most of the time she knew her.

"I've been to her house before and bought Girl Scout cookies from her," said Burton.

The two women worked at neighboring stores at the Chesterfield Towne Center. Burton identified Coffman's Facebook profile to NBC12. She says the pair often had play-dates with their sons. "Her son and my son played in the snow, in summertime. They knew each other very well, and my son has spent the night at her house before."

Burton says that Coffman found Allah last year, and started posting about her religion on Facebook. Burton says Coffman wrote some controversial statements, including anti-Israeli sentiments. "It went from ‘Heather who worked at the mall,' having regular hobbies and likes to strictly Allah. Everything changed."

Burton says Coffman friend-requested her with different Facebook accounts she had created with foreign names. However, Burton never accepted them.

"All I knew was just the top layer, as far as she followed Allah. I didn't know how deep she was into it," Burton said.

Burton was shocked to learn of her friend's alleged support for ISIS. She believes Heather had several friends at the mall who may have influenced her.

"Loving, fun, regular Virginia woman," said Burton of her friend. "I think she was just manipulated and brainwashed into supporting ISIS," said Burton.

Burton says Coffman never traveled to Syria, or met the man whom she claimed was her husband abroad. Burton now feels regret. "I'm sad. I want my friend back, but I think it might be too late.”

Burton says she's concerned for Heather's 7-year-old son, and how the charges will affect her relationships with family, friends and whom she knows.

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