A 42-year-old mother from Kansas has been accused of traveling to Syria to join ISIS.
Allison Fluke-Ekren was transferred into FBI custody Friday after being apprehended in Syria by the Department of Justice for leading a battalion of women fighters and plan potential attacks in the US. Authorities unsealed a 2019 criminal complaint in which she was charged with providing support and resources to a terrorist organization, as she was taken into custody.
Fluke-Ekren was born in the US, authorities say, where she married and worked as a teacher. A 2004 article in Kansas’s Lawrence Journal-World newspaper includes an interview with her about homeschooling her children.
The mother 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.
Authorities said in 2011, they moved to Libya; then, in 2012, they were smuggled into Syria 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 informed 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.
So 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, per the sources. 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.
Another source told authorities that by 2016, Fluke-Ekren’s husband had been killed, and she married an ISIS leader. Reportedly, she then 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. Authorities said ISIS leaders were proud to have an American instructor.
An unnamed member of Fluke-Ekren’s family additionally informed authorities that she had wanted to attack a US shopping mall using a car full of explosives in an underground parking garage. However, 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 could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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