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Kansas woman who led female ISIS battalion in Syria pleads guilty

Allison Elizabeth Fluke-Ekren, who studied biology at the University of Kansas, traveled to Syria around 2012 to wage a violent jihad, after living in Libya, Turkey and Egypt, working with another terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, according to the plea agreement. She joined ISIS with her second husband, who led a group of ISIS snipers in the country and later died in 2016 from an airstrike.

While in Syria, Fluke-Ekren led a group of over 100 female ISIS fighters — some of whom were as young as 10 at the time — training them to use AK-47s, grenades and suicide belts. During Tuesday’s hearing, Fluke-Ekren claimed she wasn’t aware that some of the female fighters she was training were minors at the time, saying that “we didn’t intentionally train any young girls.”

Some of these women might choose to testify during the sentencing, prosecutors said, adding that they faced “life-long trauma” because of Fluke-Ekren.

According to her plea agreement with the Justice Department, in 2012 Fluke-Ekren assisted her husband at the time in analyzing US documents he had stolen from the September 11 attacks on a US mission and diplomatic annex in Benghazi, where US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US nationals were killed. The two provided the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia with the documents as well as summaries of the information they had prepared.

During her time with ISIS, Fluke-Ekren also discussed plans for terrorist attacks on US soil, including parking a van full of explosives under a shopping mall, telling one witness that any attack which didn’t kill a large number of people was a waste of resources.

She was arrested in Syria and taken into custody in the United States in January where she was charged with providing and conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS.

When Judge Leonie Brinkema mentioned that Fluke-Ekren had “quite a few children,” asking if they were a reason she might feel pressured to plea, Fluke-Ekren broke down in tears. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Her sentencing is scheduled for October 25.

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