US native Allison Fluke-Ekren sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding ISIS
- Fluke-Ekren waged violent jihad in Libya, Iraq and Syria for eight years, prosecutors said.
- She trained women and children in the use of AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts.
- Fluke-Ekren’s attorneys argued she deserved a shorter sentence after the trauma and loss she suffered.
WASHINGTON – A Kansas woman who admitted support the terrorist organization Islamic Stateincluding training a battalion of women and girls to fight with guns and explosiveswas sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison.
Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, born in Lawrence, Kansas, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, also known as ISIS. Fight against terrorism experts said she was an unusual case of a woman commanding power in the traditionally male-dominated culture of Islamic jihad.
Fluke-Ekren, whose father and grandfather were U.S. military veterans, carried out terrorist acts for eight years in Libya, Iraq, and Syria and planned attacks with mass casualties in the U.S. , according to prosecutors. Prosecutors had argued that the maximum sentence of 20 years would not be enough for his crimes.
Beyond the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced Fluke-Ekren to 25 years probation.
Her lawyers had urged Brinkema to order an unspecified shorter sentence because of the trauma and loss she had suffered. Three of her husbands and two children died abroad. She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in Syria and gave up violence when she left the terror group in May 2019, her lawyers said.
In Syria, she led an all-female military battalion of the Islamic State group and trained women and children to use AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts on behalf of the terrorist organization, a- she admitted. She has trained more than 100 women and girls from the age of 10, according to the statement.
In addition to the terrorism charge, prosecutors discovered during the sentencing investigation that her eldest son and daughter accused her of physically and sexually abusing them as children.
“Allison Fluke-Ekren brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill,” First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh said in a sentencing memo. “She blazed a path of terror, plunging her own children into unfathomable depths of cruelty by abusing them physically, psychologically, emotionally and sexually.”
But Fluke-Ekren has denied the abuse allegations. According to her attorneys, Joseph King and Sean Sherlock, she called the charges in the sentencing memo “inaccurate, exaggerated, hyperbolic and in many cases completely false.”
Fluke-Ekren’s son says she’s a “monster”
Fluke-Ekren grew up on a “quaint and bucolic” 81-acre farm in Overbrook, Kansas, in a “loving and stable home,” prosecutors say. Her grandfather served in the navy during World War II and her father served in the army in Vietnam, prosecutors noted.
But one of her daughters told authorities that a teenage Fluke-Ekren tormented her brother, who is a year younger than her, ‘for fun’ and tried to drown him in an icy lake, according to court documents.
She became pregnant at 16 and married her first husband, James Fluke, in 1996, court records show. She had a son and a daughter with him before divorcing her in 2002. Fluke called her a “crook” and told authorities “something is broken deep inside this woman,” prosecutors say.
Fluke-Ekren’s son, who was not named in court papers, recounted years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse at his hands. She choked him unconscious, locked him in tight spaces until he defecated on himself and poured salt or chemicals into his wounds, he said.
“My mother is a freak who likes to torture children for sexual pleasure,” said her son, who is expected to attend the sentencing in Alexandria, Virginia. “My mother is a freak who is very good at manipulating and controlling her emotions to her advantage.”
Fluke-Ekren’s daughter also said she was sexually abused by her as a child. The girl said she was slapped so hard when she was 6 in Egypt that her cheek had bruises in the shape of her mother’s fingers, court records show.
“My mother was pounding my body, leaving my muscles clutching in agony,” her daughter said.
Fluke-Ekren’s attorneys said they had neither the time nor the resources to counter the allegations. But among the points they made were that she recalled her father being ‘disapproving, distant, false and judgmental’ and her mother suffering from ‘severe and crippling depression’.
Lawyers argued they should subpoena pediatrician records from Kansas, school records from Indiana where his children attended school, and medical records from Egypt and Turkey, in addition to interviewing witnesses in the Middle East.
“She vehemently denies the allegations of abuse and many characteristics of her in these paragraphs and points out that no complaints have been filed against (her) by her large extended family with any authority,” her parents said. lawyers.
Fluke-Ekren admitted to aiding terrorists and training women in the use of weapons
Fluke-Ekren’s rift with the United States came after she finished college and graduate school and moved to the Middle East, according to court records detailing her journey from Kansas mother to overseas terrorist.
She met her second husband, Volkan Ekren, and converted to Islam while studying biology at the University of Kansas. After graduating in December 2006, she taught math and science at a school in Wichita before starting a graduate program at Earlham College in Indiana in June 2007.
She moved with her children and Ekren to Cairo in 2008. She eventually had six more children with him. Her father, stepmother and then 11-year-old son each said she fled the United States to avoid paying off student loans now totaling $86,817.
She appeared on the terrorist scene after Libya’s September 11, 2012 attack on US government offices in Benghazi, which killed four Americans. Ekren claimed he removed a box of documents and an electronic device from the compound, and she helped him summarize the records, according to court records. The documents and the device were eventually handed over to leaders of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, according to court records.
While residing in Syria in 2014, Fluke-Ekren told a witness that she wanted to detonate a vehicle filled with explosives at a US mall. She also referred to the bombing of a US college in the Midwest in retaliation for an airstrike near al-Bab, Syria, that killed children, prosecutors said. These attacks never took place.
Fluke-Ekren’s lawyers questioned the credibility of the witnesses in a cover note, which remains sealed, over their previous statements on attack plans.
Fluke-Ekren created a women’s military battalion, called Khatiba Nusaybah, in February 2017 to train women to help defend Raqqa, Syria, according to court documents.
She lost three wives in battle. Ekren, an Islamic State group sniper leader, was killed in a 2016 US airstrike in Tel Abyad, Syria, court records show. Her third husband, Mohammed Zafer, a member of the Bangladeshi Islamic State group specializing in drones, was killed in an airstrike in Raqqa, Syria, in 2016, according to court records. She had three children with him.
Her fourth husband, Mohammed Doe, another member of the Bangladeshi Islamic State group tasked with defending Raqqa, died fighting there in 2018, according to court records. Ekren and Doe emotionally controlled and abused her, her lawyers said.
Fluke-Ekren’s case stood out because terrorist leaders aren’t usually women
Accusations of international terrorism against women are extremely rare, experts say, as men tend to dominate misogynistic groups such as al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISISand related groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.
But a dozen cases over the past decade of U.S. citizens or permanent residents have revealed women abandonment of traditional caretaker roles to recruit other warriors, train others to use guns and explosives, and even kill.
After Doe’s death, Fluke-Ekren left the terror group in May 2019, according to his attorneys. She was smuggled out of militant-held territory, dedicated herself to raising her children and married her fifth husband, Mahmood Mustafa, a Syrian who was not a member of the terror group, according to her lawyers.
She sought “to provide security and stability for her children and to allow herself to settle down and lead as normal a life as possible”, her lawyers said.
She worked for a non-governmental organization and taught at a school for around 50 children that opened in January 2020 in Qobassin, Syria, according to her lawyers.
After separating from Mustafa, she attempted to surrender to local police in the summer of 2021. She was arrested two weeks later and held for seven months before being transferred to the United States in January 2022, according to court records.
“His life after leaving ISIS reflects his disavowal of violence,” his lawyers said.