A 42-Year-Old Mom From Kansas Is Accused Of Joining ISIS And Leading A Group Of Women Fighters

Allison Fluke-Ekren was turned over to the FBI on Friday after being taken into custody in Syria.

BaderKhan Ahmad/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Old Wall of Raqqa on July 5, 2017, in Raqqa, Syria.

A 42-year-old woman from Kansas is accused of traveling to Syria to join ISIS, where she went on to lead a battalion of women fighters and plan potential attacks in the US.

Allison Fluke-Ekren was transferred into FBI custody Friday after being apprehended in Syria, the Department of Justice said. As she was taken into custody, authorities unsealed a 2019 criminal complaint in which she was charged with providing support and resources to a terrorist organization.

Fluke-Ekren was born in the US, where she married and worked as a teacher, authorities said. A 2004 article in Kansas's Lawrence Journal-World newspaper includes an interview with her about homeschooling her children. She and her family moved to Egypt in 2008, federal prosecutors said in a motion filed Friday, and over the next several years, they sometimes traveled back to the US. A 2008 blog post shows the couple and their four children visiting the pyramids.

In 2011, they moved to Libya; then, in 2012, they were smuggled into Syria, authorities said, because Fluke-Ekren "wished to engage in violent jihad." They brought $15,000 with them, which was used to buy weapons including handguns, AK-47 assault rifles, and grenades, the criminal complaint said.

The complaint detailed the account of a government source who briefly lived with Fluke-Ekren in ISIS territory. The source told authorities that Fluke-Ekren claimed to be working on a plan to attack a college in the US using a backpack filled with explosives. That plan was approved by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Fluke-Ekren allegedly told the source, but her work stopped when she found out she was pregnant.

Instead, she went on to translate speeches by ISIS leaders and also began training women and children to use weapons including automatic AK-47s and suicide belts, the source said. Other sources described weapons in her home, and one person said they'd seen her 5- or 6-year-old child with a machine gun.

By 2016, Fluke-Ekren's husband had been killed, and she married an ISIS leader, another source told authorities. She joined what was called the Nusaybah Battalion, a group of women married to ISIS fighters who trained themselves to fight, and she then became leader of the group, several people told authorities. One source estimated she had provided military training for more than 100 women and girls; ISIS leaders were proud to have an American instructor, authorities said.

An unnamed member of Fluke-Ekren's family also told authorities that she had wanted to attack a US shopping mall using a car full of explosives in an underground parking garage; the plan didn't go forward because her husband didn't approve.

"FLUKE-EKREN stated that she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources," the complaint said.

She is scheduled to appear in court Monday, and prosecutors noted in their motion that multiple witnesses are prepared to testify against her. If convicted, she could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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