The American Allison Fluke-Ekren organized and led an all-female military battalion in the ranks of the Islamic State (ISIS, in its English acronym), the Justice Department reported this Saturday. A complaint filed in 2019 in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia accuses the woman, who traveled to Syria to join the jihadist organization, of providing and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Fluke-Ekren, 42, allegedly presented the leader of the self-styled caliphate, Abubaker al-Baghdadi, with plans to attack an American university without specifying that they did not materialize when she became pregnant. Her husband, commander of the snipers in Syria in 2014 and whose identity has not been revealed, was killed in a bombardment against ISIS positions. The couple met in the US and arrived in the Arab country with $15,000 to buy weapons.
The defendant, who was arrested in Syria on an unspecified date, was made available to the FBI this Friday and later transferred to Virginia. He is expected to appear in federal court in Alexandria early Monday afternoon. Originally from Texas, where she was a professor, the woman was involved in activities such as planning and recruiting agents for a potential attack on a university campus in the United States. She was also the leader of the Khatiba Nusaybah battalion, which trained women in the use of AK-47 assault rifles and grenades and in committing suicide bombings using explosive belts. He also instructed minors in the use of the Kalashnikov. One of the witnesses explained that ISIS leaders and military officials were proud to have an American instructor.
Based on the testimony of six people, the lawsuit establishes that the defendant was active between 2014 and 2017. During that period, the woman also indicated her intention to blow up a shopping center in her country with a car bomb, since she considered that an attack that not killing a large number of people was a waste of resources. Inspired by the ISIS attacks that hit several European capitals, Fluke-Ekren aspired to replicate the attacks in her home country, according to one of the prosecution witnesses.
At the end of 2016, the American had risen to the top of the ISIS chain of command thanks to her services as head of the Khatiba, made up solely of wives of ISIS fighters. According to one of the witnesses, the leadership of the self-styled Islamic State ordered the women who stayed in Raqa during the 2017 siege to continue training. The offensive was launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to expel the jihadists from the former de facto capital of the caliphate in Syria (the other was Mosul, in Iraq, where it was proclaimed). The battle began in June and ended in October 2017, at which point the SDF regained control of the devastated city.
The discovery that a US citizen rose through the ranks of ISIS comes the same week that ISIS was making a resurgence in Syria, with a prolonged assault on a prison where a large number of the organization’s fighters were being held. Although the identity of Fluke-Ekren’s husband has not been revealed, the woman’s case is one of the foreign citizens assimilated into ISIS, most of whom have ended up, along with their children, in camps in northeastern Syria guarded by Kurdish forces. Several of the nom de guerres Fluke-Ekren used feature her as the mother of, among others, Mohamed and Jabril. The whereabouts of the minors are unknown.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.