American woman accused of playing an important role in the Islamic State

The FBI has arrested an American woman who federal prosecutors say rose through the ranks of Islamic State in Syria to become a battalio...


The FBI has arrested an American woman who federal prosecutors say rose through the ranks of Islamic State in Syria to become a battalion commander, training women and children to use assault rifles and suicide belts, revealed Saturday the Ministry of Justice.

Wife, Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, a former Kansas teacher, has been charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization. The circumstances of her capture in Syria were not immediately known, but the FBI transported her to Virginia on Friday to face prosecution.

Prosecutors described Ms Fluke-Ekren as playing an unusually outsized role in the Islamic State as a woman and an American. Charges against American women involved in the Islamic State have been rare.

Investigators said Ms Fluke-Ekren was smuggled into Syria in 2012 from Libya. She traveled to the country, according to a witness, because she wanted to carry out a “violent jihad”. Raj Parek, a federal prosecutor, wrote in a detention note released Saturday.

According to a criminal complaint filed in 2019, a witness told the FBI that Ms Fluke-Ekren and her husband brought $15,000 to Syria to buy weapons. Her husband, the witness said, eventually became commander of all snipers in Syria in 2014. He later died in an airstrike while carrying out a terrorist attack on behalf of the Islamic State, investigators said. Ms Fluke-Ekren met her husband in the United States, according to court documents.

The same witness also told the FBI that Ms Fluke-Ekren had a plan in 2014 to attack a college in the United States using backpacks filled with explosives. Prosecutors did not reveal which college she had wanted to target. The criminal complaint said his plan was presented to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State at the time, who approved its funding. The witness said the attack was suspended after Ms Fluke-Ekren learned she was pregnant. Mrs. Fluke-Ekren had several children, but it is not known how many.

Prosecutors said Ms Fluke-Ekren moved to Egypt in 2008, lived there for about three years, then traveled to Libya, where she stayed for about a year before sneaking off to Syria. According to a witness, Ms. Fluke-Ekren left Libya because another terrorist organization, Ansar al-Sharia, was no longer carrying out attacks in this country and it wanted to carry out a violent jihad.

In his memo pleading to keep Ms Fluke-Ekren behind bars pending trial, Mr Parekh said she had been a “strong supporter of the radical Islamic State terrorist ideology for many years”. The prosecutor said the government had many witnesses ready to testify against her.

According to the detention memo, the mayor of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the self-declared capital of the Islamic State, approved the opening of a military battalion to train women to help defend the city. Ms. Fluke-Ekren, investigators said, quickly became its leader and organizer.

Witnesses said Ms Fluke-Ekren gave lessons to members of the battalion and on one occasion one of her young children was seen holding an assault rifle. A witness said more than 100 women and girls had received training from Ms Fluke-Ekren. She had hoped to create a cadre of suicide bombers who could infiltrate enemy positions, but the effort never materialized, according to the complaint.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren told another witness of her desire to attack a shopping center using a remote-controlled vehicle filled with explosives. The witness said she wanted to kill a lot of people.

Court documents say that after her husband’s death, Ms Fluke-Ekren married another Islamic State terrorist, a Bangladeshi who specialized in drones and who was working on a plan to drop chemical bombs from the air. He is also dead. She later married an Islamic State military leader who was responsible for defending Raqqa, a witness said.

A witness also said Ms Fluke-Ekren claimed to have tried to send a message to her family in an attempt to trick them into thinking she was dead so the US government would stop trying to find her. She told the witness that she never wanted to return to the United States and that she wanted to be martyred in Syria.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia have made aggressive efforts to prosecute terrorists captured overseas. Cases can be extremely difficult because witnesses and other evidence can often only be found in war zones, as well as due to geopolitical considerations.

Last year, Mohammed Khalifa, a Saudi-Canadian who traveled to Syria in 2013 and later joined the Islamic State, was brought to the United States and accused of providing material support to a terrorist organization resulting in death. Mr. Khalifa narrated and translated approximately 15 videos created and distributed by the Islamic State. he later pleaded guilty and faces life imprisonment.

Two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, who were part of an ISIS cell of four Britons called “the Beatles,” were brought to the United States in 2020 face charges. The group, so nicknamed by its victims because of the accent of its members, kidnapped and abused more than two dozen hostages, including American journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded in videos of propaganda.

Mr Kotey pleaded guilty to his role in the deaths of four Americans in Syria. He faces life imprisonment. Mr. Elsheikh has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

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Newsrust - US Top News: American woman accused of playing an important role in the Islamic State
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