US woman who led female IS battalion faces up to 20 years in prison

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An American woman who grew up on a farm in Kansas, converted to Islam and joined the militant Islamic State group in Syria, where she led an all-female military battalion, is to be sentenced on Tuesday for providing support to a foreign terrorist group.

Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to terror charges in June in a US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. “For at least eight years, Fluke-Ekren committed terrorist acts on behalf of three foreign terrorist organisations across war zones in Libya, Iraq, and Syria,” US attorney Raj Parekh said in a pre-sentencing memo. “Fluke-Ekren brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill,” Parekh said.

“She carved a path of terror, plunging her own children into unfathomable depths of cruelty by physically, psychologically, emotionally, and sexually abusing them.” Parekh, urging Judge Leonie Brinkema to impose the maximum 20-year sentence, traced Fluke-Ekren’s path from her upbringing on an 81-acre (33-hectare) farm in Kansas to her apprehension in Syria after the 2019 territorial defeat of IS.

While other Americans traveled to Syria and Iraq to join IS, most were men and Fluke-Ekren is the rare American woman who occupied a senior position in the ranks of the now defunct Islamic Caliphate. Born Allison Brooks, she grew up in a “loving and stable home” in Overbrook, Kansas, and was considered a “gifted” student, the US attorney said.

She dropped out of high school in her sophomore year, however, and married a local man named Fluke, with whom she had two children. Her son from that marriage testified anonymously about years of abuse inflicted on him and his siblings by their mother.

“My mother is a monster without love for her children, without an excuse for her actions,” said her son, who plans to attend Tuesday’s sentencing in Alexandria. “She has the blood, pain, and suffering of all of her children on her hands.” After leaving her first husband, Fluke-Ekren attended the University of Kansas, where she married a fellow student named Volkan Ekren and became a Muslim. She later earned a teaching certificate from a college in Indiana. They had five children together and adopted another after the child’s parents were killed as suicide bombers in Syria.

In 2008, the family moved to Egypt and in 2011 to Libya where, the US attorney said, “Fluke-Ekren’s dogged pursuit to obtain positions of power and influence to train young women in extremist ideology and violence began.”

They were in Benghazi in September 2012 when the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia attacked the US mission and CIA office there, killing the US ambassador and three other Americans.—AFP

 

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