Kansas Woman Who Joined ISIS Left a ‘Trail of Betrayal’

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A instructor from Kansas who had transformed to Islam traveled to probably the most harmful conflicts on the earth — Libya, Iraq, Syria — hoping to wage warfare.

Syria was the place the instructor, Allison Fluke-Ekren, in the end made her mark: She rose by means of the ranks of the Islamic State, commanding a battalion of feminine fighters and coaching greater than 100 girls and women, together with her personal daughter.

Even as her daughter finally escaped to Kansas in 2017, Ms. Fluke-Ekren stayed, hoping to die defending the so-called caliphate and making an attempt to trick her household within the United States into believing she was not alive. She was lastly detained in the summertime of 2021, held by unknown forces in Syria, earlier than being delivered to the Eastern District of Virginia in January on a cost of offering materials help to terrorists.

On Tuesday, Ms. Fluke-Ekren, 42, pleaded guilty to the single charge in a federal courtroom in Northern Virginia. As half of a plea deal, Ms. Fluke-Ekren detailed her position in Syria in addition to a beforehand undisclosed connection to the 2012 assaults in Benghazi that killed 4 Americans, together with the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

For the F.B.I. and prosecutors, her conviction marked the tip of a seven-year hunt. Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s hardened militancy, fervency and unusually high-level position within the Islamic State stand out even among the many Americans who traveled to wage jihad in Syria. The case was the primary prosecution within the United States involving a prime feminine navy chief of the Islamic State, the primary assistant U.S. lawyer, Raj Parekh, stated in the course of the listening to on Tuesday.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren was a “damaged person,” a teenage mom from Overbrook, Kan., who slowly embraced the Islamic State’s ideology and had a knack for languages, in line with Amy Farouk, a former pal.

“It was a way for her to feel important,” Ms. Farouk stated. “It made her have a sense of purpose.”

Efforts to achieve Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s household in Kansas have been unsuccessful. But Ms. Farouk, who stated she met Ms. Fluke-Ekren in about 2001, stuffed out parts of her life. At the time, Ms. Fluke-Ekren was a instructor on the Islamic School of Greater Kansas City.

After Ms. Fluke-Ekren had two kids and her first marriage in Kansas fell aside, she met a world pupil from Turkey, Volkan Ekren, on the University of Kansas, the place each majored within the sciences, Ms. Farouk stated. Ms. Fluke-Ekren graduated in 2007 after which attended a educating program at Earlham College in Indiana, prosecutors stated.

The two finally married and had 5 kids collectively, all of whom have been born within the United States.

In about 2008, Ms. Fluke-Ekren and Mr. Ekren moved to Cairo, the place they lived within the upscale Sheikh Zayed City, in line with Ms. Farouk, who relocated there across the identical time. “Life was good,” Ms. Farouk recalled, noting that her pal spoke Arabic fluently.

The household moved to Libya in late 2011, Ms. Farouk stated. According to the plea settlement, Ms. Fluke-Ekren and her husband lived in Benghazi on the time of the 2012 assaults on an American diplomatic compound and a close by C.I.A. base. In the aftermath of the assaults, prosecutors stated Mr. Ekren claimed to have eliminated a field of paperwork and no less than one digital gadget from the U.S. compound and brought them house.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren admitted to serving to him kind by means of the paperwork and put together summaries that have been offered to the leaders of Ansar al-Shariah, a terrorist group accused of main the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi. In late 2012, the household left Libya as a result of Ansar al-Shariah was not conducting assaults within the nation, in line with the assertion of details.

Shortly after, the couple traveled to Syria, however Ms. Fluke-Ekren returned to Turkey whereas Mr. Ekren stayed and later oversaw Islamic State snipers. She joined him in Syria in 2014, however the subsequent year, they moved to Mosul, Iraq, the place she helped ISIS in dealing with widows whose husbands had died combating.

The household returned to Syria, and Mr. Ekren was killed in an airstrike as he was conducting reconnaissance for a terrorist assault, prosecutors stated.

Prosecutors stated Ms. Fluke-Ekren married one other Islamic State terrorist, a Bangladeshi man who specialised in drones and labored on a plan to drop chemical bombs utilizing them. After the person, Wamiq al-Bengali, died, Ms. Fluke-Ekren married one other Bangladeshi man, an Islamic State navy chief who was liable for defending Raqqa, Syria. He died whereas combating for ISIS in 2018.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren admitted that she needed to launch assaults within the United States, together with on a school that prosecutors didn’t determine. According to the legal grievance, her plan was introduced to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the chief of the Islamic State, who authorized funding it. Mr. al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid in 2019 by American commandos.

The grievance stated Ms. Fluke-Ekren ran the battalion in 2016, coaching kids on easy methods to use AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts. One witness noticed one of Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s kids, who was about 5 – 6 years outdated on the time, holding a machine gun at her house in Syria.

She was smuggled out of Syria in about May 2019 and married a fifth time, in line with the assertion of details. But the couple separated, and Ms. Fluke-Ekren tried to give up to the native police close to Qabasin, Syria. Two weeks later, she was taken to a detention facility in Jarabulus, Syria. It shouldn’t be clear who ran the jail.

Mr. Parekh stated that Ms. Fluke-Ekren had left a “trail of betrayal” and that her relations may wish to make sufferer statements when she is sentenced in October. She faces as much as 20 years in jail.

When Judge Leonie M. Brinkema talked about her kids, Ms. Fluke-Ekren, who was carrying a black hijab, turned visibly upset and started to weep.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren has no less than seven kids, together with 5 with Mr. Ekren. Federal authorities introduced again six of them to the United States, folks conversant in the matter stated. At least one baby, a son she had along with her second husband, was killed in an airstrike in Syria. Her oldest son, who had lived along with her in Cairo, returned to Kansas earlier than Ms. Fluke-Ekren went to Libya.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s case is an element of an aggressive effort by federal prosecutors in Virginia to prosecute terrorists captured overseas.

Mohammed Khalifa, a Saudi-born Canadian who traveled to Syria in 2013 and later joined the Islamic State, was delivered to the United States final year and charged with offering materials help to a terrorist group that resulted in demise. He later pleaded guilty and faces life in jail.

Two British males, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, who have been half of a infamous ISIS cell of Britons referred to as “the Beatles,” have been finally captured and prosecuted. The group kidnapped and tortured greater than two dozen hostages, together with the American journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, each of whom have been beheaded in propaganda movies.

Mr. Kotey pleaded guilty to his position within the deaths of 4 Americans in Syria and was sentenced to life in jail. In April, a jury convicted Mr. Elsheikh, who additionally faces a necessary sentence of life in jail for his half within the brutal kidnapping scheme.

Back to top button