From Benghazi to Raqqa, a Kansas Girl Left a ‘Path of Betrayal’
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A instructor from Kansas who had transformed to Islam traveled to essentially the most harmful conflicts on this planet — Libya, Iraq, Syria — hoping to wage conflict.
Syria was the place the instructor, Allison Fluke-Ekren, in the end made her mark: She rose by way of the ranks of the Islamic State, commanding a battalion of feminine fighters and coaching greater than 100 ladies and ladies, together with her personal daughter.
Whilst her daughter ultimately escaped to Kansas in 2017, Ms. Fluke-Ekren stayed, hoping to die defending the so-called caliphate and attempting to trick her household in america into believing she was now not alive. She was lastly detained in the summertime of 2021, held by unknown forces in Syria, earlier than being delivered to the Japanese District of Virginia in January on a cost of offering materials assist to terrorists.
On Tuesday, Ms. Fluke-Ekren, 42, pleaded responsible to the one cost in a federal courtroom in Northern Virginia. As a part 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 Individuals, 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 place within the Islamic State stand out even among the many Individuals who traveled to wage jihad in Syria. The case was the primary prosecution in america involving a high feminine army chief of the Islamic State, the primary assistant U.S. legal professional, Raj Parekh, stated through the listening to on Tuesday.
Ms. Fluke-Ekren was a “broken individual,” a teenage mom from Overbrook, Kan., who slowly embraced the Islamic State’s ideology and had a knack for languages, based on Amy Farouk, a former pal.
“It was a means for her to really feel essential,” Ms. Farouk stated. “It made her have a way of objective.”
Efforts to succeed in Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s household in Kansas had been unsuccessful. However Ms. Farouk, who stated she met Ms. Fluke-Ekren in about 2001, crammed out parts of her life. On the time, Ms. Fluke-Ekren was a instructor on the Islamic College of Higher Kansas Metropolis.
After Ms. Fluke-Ekren had two youngsters and her first marriage in Kansas fell aside, she met a global scholar from Turkey, Volkan Ekren, on the College of Kansas, the place each majored within the sciences, Ms. Farouk stated. Ms. Fluke-Ekren graduated in 2007 after which attended a instructing program at Earlham Faculty in Indiana, prosecutors stated.
The 2 ultimately married and had 5 youngsters collectively, all of whom had been born in america.
In about 2008, Ms. Fluke-Ekren and Mr. Ekren moved to Cairo, the place they lived within the upscale Sheikh Zayed Metropolis, based on 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. Based on 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. Within the aftermath of the assaults, prosecutors stated Mr. Ekren claimed to have eliminated a field of paperwork and at the least one digital machine from the U.S. compound and brought them house.
Ms. Fluke-Ekren admitted to serving to him kind by way of the paperwork and put together summaries that had been supplied 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 now not conducting assaults within the nation, based on 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 12 months, they moved to Mosul, Iraq, the place she helped ISIS in dealing with widows whose husbands had died preventing.
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 army chief who was answerable for defending Raqqa, Syria. He died whereas preventing for ISIS in 2018.
Ms. Fluke-Ekren admitted that she needed to launch assaults in america, together with on a university that prosecutors didn’t establish. Based on the legal grievance, her plan was offered to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then the chief of the Islamic State, who accredited 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 youngsters on easy methods to use AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts. One witness noticed one in all Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s youngsters, who was about 5 – 6 years previous on the time, holding a machine gun at her house in Syria.
She was smuggled out of Syria in about Could 2019 and married a fifth time, based on the assertion of details. However 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 isn’t clear who ran the jail.
Mr. Parekh stated that Ms. Fluke-Ekren had left a “path of betrayal” and that her members of the family would possibly need to make sufferer statements when she is sentenced in October. She faces as much as 20 years in jail.
When Choose Leonie M. Brinkema talked about her youngsters, Ms. Fluke-Ekren, who was sporting a black hijab, turned visibly upset and started to weep.
Ms. Fluke-Ekren has at the least seven youngsters, together with 5 with Mr. Ekren. Federal authorities introduced again six of them to america, folks acquainted with the matter stated. A minimum of 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 a part 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 america final 12 months and charged with offering materials assist to a terrorist group that resulted in loss of life. He later pleaded responsible and faces life in jail.
Two British males, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, who had been a part of a infamous ISIS cell of Britons known as “the Beatles,” had been ultimately 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 had been beheaded in propaganda movies.
Mr. Kotey pleaded responsible to his position within the deaths of 4 Individuals in Syria and was sentenced to life in jail. In April, a jury convicted Mr. Elsheikh, who additionally faces a compulsory sentence of life in jail for his half within the brutal kidnapping scheme.
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