Allison Fluke-Ekren charged with leading female ISIS battalion

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A former Kansas woman and mother of five has been charged with joining ISIS and leading an all-female battalion of fighters in Syria, the Department of Justice announced Saturday.

Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, allegedly trained her own children to use AK-47s and suicide belts, translated speeches made by ISIS leaders, and conspired to plan an attack on an American college campus, the DOJ said.

Fluke-Ekren was appointed in 2016 to lead the Khatiba Nusaybah, an all-female military unit of the Islamic State, in Raqqa, Syria, according to a criminal complaint filed in 2019 and unsealed Saturday.

In that role, she trained more than 100 women to fire assault rifles, throw grenades, drive explosives-laden vehicles, and use suicide belts so that they could fight in the 2017 siege of Raqqa — trainings that local leaders made mandatory for all female residents, witnesses allege.

One witness described how proud the leaders of ISIS and members of the battalion were to have an American instructor. Fluke-Ekren’s radicalization was “off the charts,” another witness said — an “11 or a 12” on a scale of 1 to 10.

In 2014, Fluke-Ekren discussed a plan to “dress like infidels” and drop off an explosives-packed backpack at an unnamed US college to kill students, FBI Special Agent David Robins alleged in the criminal affidavit.

Damaged buildings are pictured during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria.
A witness said Allison Fluke-Ekren’s radicalization was “off the charts.”
REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra

She told a witness “not to worry about the logistics because she knew how to get into the US from Mexico,” Robins wrote.

Another witness claimed that Fluke-Ekren mapped out how she might attack a US shopping mall by stowing a car bomb in a basement parking garage and detonating it with a cell phone trigger.

“Fluke-Ekren considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,” US Attorney Jessica Aber wrote in a court affidavit filed Friday.

In a blog devoted to “the adventures of the Fluke-Ekren family,” established in 2008 when she still lived in Lawrence, Kan., Fluke-Ekren chronicled her young family’s travels to Turkey and to Egypt, where they posed for tourist snapshots at the pyramids and happily rode on camels. In 2010, she used the site to celebrate the birth of her youngest child.

The US Courthouse is seen in Alexandria, Virginia.
A 42-year-old mother, Allison Fluke-Ekren will stand trial Monday, facing the charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization.
AP / Cliff Owen

But by 2011, she was living permanently overseas — and becoming deeply involved in Islamic terrorism, authorities allege.

Her first husband was killed in Syria 2016 as he attempted to carry out a terrorist attack, prosecutors said. She subsequently wed a Bangladeshi ISIS member who also died, then married a prominent ISIS leader who headed the group’s failed 2017 defense of Raqqa.

By 2018, Fluke-Ekren had told a contact in Syria to send a message to an American family member that she, too, had died — “so that the US government would not attempt to locate her,” Aber wrote.

One of the government’s six witnesses “heard Fluke-Ekren state that she never wanted to return to the United States and that she wanted to die in Syria as a martyr,” Aber alleged.

Fluke-Ekren will appear in federal court in Alexandria, Va. on Monday, where she will be charged with the crime of providing material support to a terrorist organization — which carries a 20-year prison sentence.

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