A 30-year-old Philadelphia woman, Keonna Thomas, was arrested Friday and charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS and attempting to travel overseas to fight with and martyr herself on behalf of the terrorist organization, FBI officials said.
Thomas' case was investigated by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department. The FBI began monitoring Thomas' behavior in 2013, after she tweeted a picture of a child soldier with the caption: "Ask yourself, while this young man is holding magazines for the Islamic state, what are you doing for it? #ISIS"
She continued to tweet about ISIS for the next two years. According to the criminal complaint, Thomas, also known as "Fatayat Al Khilafah" and "YoungLioness," posted several other tweets in support of the militant group, including pictures of U.S. currency with captions about donating money to ISIS. She also emailed with ISIS fighters both in the United States and abroad.
In January 2015, Thomas sent an email to a radical Islamic cleric in Jamaica, the FBI's criminal complaint alleges. Her email read: "I don't want to say much here ... as of now im still here in the states but will be leaving soon." She later Tweeted that she would be deactivating her Twitter account so she didn't draw attention to herself while applying for a passport.
Thomas deactivated her Twitter account, but continued to email with ISIS militants who told her they could make her wish of partaking in Istishadee [martyrdom operations] with ISIS "come true," according to the complaint.
On March 26, Thomas bought plane tickets to fly to Barcelona, Spain, a route the FBI believes would have led her to Turkey, where she could have easily moved into the neighboring country of Syria.
Thomas was charged on Friday with "attempting to provide material support and resources, including herself as personnel, to a designated foreign terrorist organization" and for attempting to travel overseas in order fight with ISIS. If convicted, she will face up to 15 years in prison.
Her case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the Justice Department's National Security Division.
Last week, two Illinois men were also charged with attempt to provide material resources to ISIS.