A Kansas-born woman who led an all-female Islamic State battalion and trained others to use assault rifles, grenades and suicide explosives pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to provide material support for terrorism, the Washington Post reports. Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, admitted in federal court that she was the leader of the Khatiba Nusaybah, a female battalion that prepared to defend Islamic State-controlled Raqqa, Syria, in 2017. She could face up to 20 years in prison. Researchers say that hundreds of Western women have joined or given support to the Islamic State, but Fluke-Ekren is the first U.S. woman to be prosecuted for a leadership role in the Islamist militant group. After studying at the University of Kansas and an Indiana college, Fluke-Ekren moved with her children and second husband to Egypt in 2008 and aided terrorist groups for more than six years while in Iraq, Libya and Syria. “Over 100 women and young girls received military training from Fluke-Ekren in Syria on behalf of ISIS,” said prosecutor Raj Parekh, describing Fluke-Ekren as “a fervent believer in the radical terrorist ideology of ISIS for many years.”
Federal prosecutors disclosed that Fluke-Ekren assisted leaders of the terrorist group behind the 2012 attack that killed four Americans in Libya, by providing summaries of documents she said her husband had stolen from a U.S. compound in Benghazi. By 2016, she had trained women and young girls to use AK-47 rifles, grenades, and explosive suicide belts. In 2017, Fluke-Ekren was named the leader of Khatiba Nusaybah, an all-female brigade that gave martial arts trainings, courses on vehicle bombings, and how to pack a "go bag" with rifles and military documents where she provided some of the trainings herself. Fluke-Ekren initially said she didn’t purposely train children, though when pressed by the judge, she agreed with prosecutors that she had given military training to more than 100 women and young girls. Additionally, Fluke-Ekren admitted she had ideas for a mass-casualty strike in the U.S. that were never put into action. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema scheduled Fluke-Ekren’s sentencing for Oct. 25.