A former Kansas woman who’s accused of moving to Syria to help the self-declared Islamic State (IS) group while leading an all-female battalion appeared in a Virginia courtroom on Monday following her recent overseas arrest.
Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, made her first court appearance while facing up to 20 years in prison for allegedly providing material support to a terrorist organization since at least 2014.
Authorities, citing multiple witnesses, say Fluke-Ekren helped train women and children on the use of firearms, grenades and suicide belts while leading an all-female militant battalion that was comprised solely of female IS members who were married to male IS fighters. She also offered translation services, housing to IS members, and taught extremist IS doctrine, according to a newly unsealed criminal complaint filed in 2019.
“Numerous witnesses have informed the government that they are prepared to testify against Fluke-Ekren to describe her extreme terrorism-related activities,” Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a motion filed last week requesting her case be unsealed.
One witness said Fluke-Ekren expressed a desire to carry out a terrorist attack in the U.S. and that she shared details about such a plan on a U.S.-based college, according to the complaint.
“Fluke-Ekren allegedly considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,” prosecutors said, citing witness testimony.
A woman who said she lived briefly with Fluke-Ekren in Syria in 2014 said Fluke-Ekren traveled to the Middle East with her former husband, who was identified as the leader of the militant group’s snipers, with $15,000 to purchase various weapons. Fluke-Ekren allegedly said she hoped to carry out an attack on U.S. soil as vengeance for deadly airstrikes that took place in a market area in northern Syria that she believed Americans were responsible for.
One witness said Fluke-Ekren had a range of firearms in her home and that her then 5-or-6-year-old son was at one point seen holding a machine gun. Fluke-Ekren allegedly said she was raising another child in her home who became orphaned after their parents participated in a suicide bombing in Syria on behalf of the IS.
In addition to various witness testimony, authorities said they recovered handwritten documents of an apparent IS Sharia law exam that had Fluke-Ekren’s alias written on each page. The handwriting was consistent with other examples of her writing that was obtained by her family and through U.S. government records.
Fluke-Ekren on Monday was ordered held pending a detention hearing scheduled for later this week, Politico reported.
During her court appearance, the prosecutor reportedly asked the judge that Fluke-Ekren not contact her father, mother, stepmother or adult children while in custody, stating that they asked that she not do so.