An American woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization, stemming from her leadership of an all-female battalion of Islamic State militants in Syria.
Allison Fluke-Ekren entered the plea in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia and faces up to 20 years in prison.
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Fluke-Ekren, who once lived in Kansas, was brought to the U.S. in January to face a criminal charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. She moved to Egypt in 2008 and starting in late 2016, according to prosecutors, she led an all-female Islamic State unit in the Syrian city of Raqqa that was trained in the use of AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts.
A detention memo filed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh says she trained children how to use assault rifles and at least one witness saw one of her children — approximately 6 or 7 years old — holding a machine gun in the family’s home in Syria.
Prosecutors have also said Fluke-Ekren wanted to recruit operatives to attack a college campus in the U.S. and discussed a terrorist attack on a shopping mall. She told one witness that “she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,” according to an FBI affidavit.
A criminal complaint against Fluke-Ekren was filed under seal in 2019 but not made public until she was brought back to the U.S. to face charges.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article.