Kansas woman who led all-female ISIS battalion sentenced to 20 years in prison
By Holmes LybrandUpdated: Tue, 01 Nov 2022 20:55:52 GMTSource: CNNAllison Fluke-Ekren, a Kansas woman who led an all-female ISIS battalion in Syria, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday in a feBy Holmes Lybrand
Updated: Tue, 01 Nov 2022 20:55:52 GMT
Allison Fluke-Ekren, a Kansas woman who led an all-female ISIS battalion in Syria, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia.
In June, Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide support to ISIS, telling the judge she didn't know that some of the 100 women she led and trained to use guns and explosives were children, some as young as 10.
During her decade of working with ISIS and others to wage a violent jihad -- traveling from Libya to Egypt and eventually Syria -- Fluke-Ekren discussed plans for terrorist attacks in the US and trained other women in ISIS on how to use AK-47s, grenades and suicide belts, according to her plea agreement.
In the sentencing hearing Tuesday, prosecutor Raj Parekh called Fluke-Ekren the "Empress of ISIS" who "brain washed young girls and trained them to kill."
"She became a warped visionary for ISIS," Parekh said, telling the court Fluke-Ekren had a mission to create the all-female battalion. "She was attracted to death and destruction."
Parekh also said that Fluke-Ekren had repeatedly lied to the United States government and refused to cooperate, adding that she could have been "a goldmine of intelligence."
During Tuesday's hearing, one of her daughters, Leyla Ekren -- who assisted the US government in its case against her mother -- testified that her mother had abused her and her siblings and married her off as a "sex slave."
"Keep in mind what you were like at 10 or 15," Ekren said, telling the judge that she was given away as a bride to an ISIS fighter -- who Ekren referred to multiple times as "my rapist" -- when she was 13 so her mother could gain more power in the terrorist organization.
Her mother, Ekren said, had a "lust for power" and "dark desires."
Ekren testified her mother abused her and her siblings, describing one instance where she poured lice medication over Ekren's face, burning her eyes. "I wanted it to blind me" so people could see what her mother had done, she said.
Fluke-Ekren testified that she was horrified by the accusations of child abuse and claimed they never happened.
In testimony to the court Tuesday, Fluke-Ekren painted herself as a loving mother and caretaker of whatever community she found herself in, telling the judge that she was dragged along by her husbands -- several of whom died fighting for ISIS -- to Libya and Syria.
Fluke-Ekren, in a long, tearful allocution, told the judge that she had only trained women on survival techniques, gun safety and self-defense as Bashar al-Assad's Syrian army began to close in on Raqqa, where she lived.
"Do we blame women learning to defend themselves?" she asked the court, adding that the trauma of war cannot be understood by outsiders.
"No one can understand the horrors of a bombing until you've walked in its aftermath," Fluke-Ekren said, suggesting that these horrors and the fear she felt for herself, and her children explained much of her actions with ISIS.
Before handing down the sentence, the maximum Fluke-Ekren faced in the wake of her plea deal, District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she did not find her testimony credible, noting -- among other things -- that suicide vests are not defensive weapons.
Her daughter and son, Gabriel, watched in silence in the courtroom audience as their mother was sentenced. Her six minor children have been placed in foster care, Fluke-Ekren told the court.