Washington, Nov 2 (UiTV/IANS) – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a woman from Kansas who organised and led an all-female battalion of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria has been sentenced to 20 years in jail.
Allison Fluke-Ekren was sentenced on Tuesday by a court in the Eastern District of Virginia.
A statement issued by the DOJ said that Fluke-Ekren travelled overseas and from September 2011 to about May 2019, engaged in terrorist acts in multiple countries, including Syria, Libya and Iraq.
“She ultimately served as the leader and organiser of the IS military battalion, known as the Khatiba Nusaybah, where she trained women on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts,” the statement said, adding that more than 100 women and young girls, some as young as 10 years old, received military training.
During the sentencing hearing, the court incorporated into the record two separate letters submitted by Fluke-Ekren’s son and daughter, both of whom wrote about being abused when they were minors.
The government also played audio recordings of January 2021 phone conversations between Fluke-Ekren and her daughter, where she instructed her to delete messages shared between them to ensure that she could continue to evade capture in Syria, and encouraged her daughter to leave the US and return to Syria.
Both her children delivered statements in the court against their mother.
In 2008, Fluke-Ekren departed the US and moved to Egypt with her second husband, a now-deceased former member of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia.
From Egypt, she moved to Libya in 2011. The following year, the couple travelled to Turkey and from there moved to Syria.
In 2016, Fluke-Ekren led and organised an effort to establish a Women’s Centre in Raqqa, Syria. She obtained authorisation from the “Wali”, the IS-appointed mayor of Raqqa, in order to establish the centre, said the DOJ.
As the centre’s leader, she also provided and assisted other female IS members in providing training to numerous women and young girls on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and explosive suicide belts.
The Khatiba Nusaybah began operations on behalf of the terrorist organisation in or around February 2017.
She is also alleged to have recruited operatives for a potential terror attack in the US.
In a sentencing memo, First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh wrote that Fluke-Ekren “brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill”.
“She carved a path of terror, plunging her own children into unfathomable depths of cruelty by physically, psychologically, emotionally and sexually abusing them,” he added.
The total number of US citizens who joined IS remains unclear, but research from George Washington University suggests that about 300 travelled or attempted to travel to Syria or Iraq to do so.
In late 2020, US authorities announced that 27 had been repatriated, including 10 charged with terror offences.