A 42-year-old mother and former schoolteacher from Kansas faces terrorism charges in US federal court for having allegedly led an all-women Islamic State battalion, trained children to use suicide belts and heavy weapons, and planning to attack an American college, according to materials released by the Department of Justice on Saturday.
Defendant Allison Fluke-Ekren stands accused of having carried out these and other terrorism-related activities while living in Syria and other ISIS-controlled territories since 2012. US authorities had sought the Midwesterner’s arrest for years before she was detained in Syria and handed over to FBI custody Friday.
Court materials contain numerous eye witness accounts relating to Fluke-Ehren’s radicalization and allegedly prolific terroristic training: “When asked how radicalized Fluke-Ekren was, according to one witness who interacted with Fluke-Ekren in Syria, Fluke-Ekren was ‘off the charts’ and an ’11 or a 12′ on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being extremely radicalized. According to the same witness, over 100 women and young girls received military training from Fluke-Ekren in Syria on behalf of ISIS. In doing so, the witness stated that Fluke-Ekren would seek to motivate her trainees by explaining how female fighters can ensure the Islamic State is kept alive by ‘helping ISIS expand and to remain’ through the use of weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles, grenades, and suicide belts packed with explosive.”
Fluke-Ehren initially moved abroad with her now-deceased first husband and their children in 2008, initially moving to Egypt, and then Libya, before relocating to war-torn Syria in 2012, where she was ultimately captured. According to one witness, the latter move was driven by the defendant’s desire to engage in violent jihad. Fluke-Ehren’s first husband was killed in an airstrike while attempting to carry out a terrorist attack in 2016, according to a witness statement in a freshly unsealed criminal complaint dating back to 2019. The same complaint said she subsequently married a drone engineer, who was killed in 2016 or 2017, before ultimately marrying a senior ISIS military leader.
The battalion she allegedly led, known as Khatiba Nusaybah, comprised the wives of ISIS fighters, who were trained in martial arts, medical care, driving courses that focused on controlling vehicles that contained improvised explosive devices (IEDs), religious classes, and strategies for packing weapon-laden go bags.
A witness cited in the complaint told US authorities that Fluke Ekren had planned to attack a specific but unidentified US college. According to the witness, “Fluke-Ekren stated [the attackers] would dress like infidels (non-believers) and drop off a backpack with explosives.” Another witness said: “Fluke-Ekren stated that she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources.”
In addition to facing charges of training children to use weapons and suicide vests generally, the defendant’s own children appear to have been trained in at least the use of assault rifles, according to the complaint: “A witness observed one of Fluke-Ekren’s children, who FlukeEkren said was approximately five or six years old at the time, holding a machine gun at Fluke-Ekren’s residence in Syria.”
The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on charges of providing and conspiring to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. She is expected to make her initial appearance Monday before the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.