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Kansas woman Allison Fluke-Ekren, who led all-female ISIS battalion, sentenced to 20 years in prison

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This undated photo provided by the Alexandria, Virginia, Sheriff's Office in January 2022 shows Allison Fluke-Ekren.  Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP

The Kansas woman who admitted she discussed an attack on an American college and trained over 100 fighters in an all-female ISIS battalion in Syria, 42-year-old Allison Fluke-Ekren, was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison and 25 years of supervised release.

Addressing court in Alexandria, Va., she said she "regrets her choices." Fluke-Ekren, described in court documents as a mother and teacher-turned-ISIS battalion leader, pleaded guilty earlier this year to providing material support to the terrorist network. 

Allison Fluke-Ekren addresses the court, Nov. 1, 2022.  Sketch by William J. Hennessy, Jr.

Prosecutors described her admitted actions as "monstrous," writing in a pre-sentence filing that Fluke-Ekren "brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill" after leaving her own family to "pursue a career in terrorism" in Libya. 

The government's filing laid out a life full of torture and violence, which they said she inflicted on her younger brother, her children and her husbands, behavior that she allegedly took from her home to battlefields in foreign countries after she became radicalized. 

Fluke-Ekren's daughter, Leyla Ekren, addressed the court on Tuesday and shared disturbing details about the sexual and emotional abuse she faced in her early teenage years when she lived with her mother in Syria. 

In one instance, Ekren said her mother had used a chemical substance to torture her and her siblings, harming their skin. She also told the court that her mother derived sexual pleasure from beating her.

"The abuse had been going on for a while and she was getting away with it," Ekren told federal District Judge Leonie Brinkema. She added that at times, she actually wanted the signs of her abuse to be visible, so people would notice she was being tortured.

Ekren also divulged that when she was 13 years old, her mother married her off to an ISIS fighter.

"She abandoned me ... to my rapist," Ekren told the court, referring to her husband as a "rapist" because she had been forced by her mother to marry him against her will.

Fluke-Ekren vehemently denied her daughter's allegations Tuesday, calling them "outrageous" and "disgusting." 

"I'm shocked and horrified by the accusations," Fluke-Ekren said in court. 

Fluke-Ekren's legal team also argued that the newly revealed abuse allegations were not relevant to the crime to that she had admitted to and that "she does not have adequate time or resources to fully investigate and rebut these allegations."

Judge Brinkema rejected Fluke-Ekren's denials, saying she was "not credible" and her rebuttal was "inconsistent" with her previous testimony.

Fluke-Ekren converted to Islam years ago, while attending the University of Kansas and was "predisposed to zealotry," her father said, according to a government filing. She fled to Egypt, Libya and ultimately Syria, all the while "using different husbands to advocate for approval of her military training plans from the leadership in the terrorist groups with whom she was associated overseas." 

Once in Syria, according to one of at least six government witnesses who say they interacted with her, Fluke-Ekren presented a plan of attack to a paid U.S. foreign government source. That plan, Fluke-Ekren admitted in court earlier this year, was to target an American college campus in the Midwest with explosives. Although Fluke-Ekren said the plan had been presented to the then-leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it was ultimately put on hold, the initial charging documents said. 

Fluke-Ekren, who went by the name Umm Mohammed al-Amriki, also spent time in Mosul, Iraq, when it was controlled by ISIS fighters. 

In support of the terrorist organization, Fluke-Ekren trained women and some young women on the use of AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts. She also commanded Khatiba Nusaybah, the all-female group of fighters trained to perpetuate the ISIS mission.

During an interaction with another government witness in Syria, as described in court papers, Fluke-Ekren presented an idea for an attack that would have involved parking a car full of explosives in a shopping mall parking garage and detonating the bomb with a cellphone trigger.

She "considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources," according to witness statements included in the plea papers. 

The attack on the parking garage was also abandoned after Fluke-Ekren's then-husband was said to have objected. 

In the summer of 2016, according to the court documents, Fluke-Ekren married her third husband, a Bangladeshi ISIS member who built drones for ISIS and worked "attaching  chemical weapons onto drones to drop chemical bombs from the air." He was later killed. Fluke-Ekren was married five times, the documents revealed. 

Fluke-Ekren admitted that she continued her affiliation with ISIS until May 2019, ultimately turning herself in to local Syrian police in the summer of 2021. She was transferred into U.S. custody on Jan. 28, 2022, and now faces a maximum of 20 years in prison as a result of her plea. 

Her defense attorney wrote in presentencing papers that her childhood was "lonely" and some of her actions abroad were in pursuit of "self-preservation," adding she ultimately disavowed her support of ISIS in 2019 and worked at a school and a non-governmental organization in Syria. 

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