Skip to content

US woman dubbed ’empress of ISIS’ sentenced to 20 years after leading all-female Islamic State battalion in Syria

A US woman who led an all-female Islamic State battalion in Syria has been sentenced to 20 years in jail after her own children detailed the horrific circumstances and abuse she heaped on them.

Warning: This article contains details readers might find distressing.

Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, admitted she led the Khatiba Nusaybah battalion.

The unit consisted of roughly 100 women and girls — some as young as 10 years old — who were being trained to use automatic weapons and detonate grenades and suicide belts.

One of Fluke-Ekren’s daughters was among those who said she received such training.

The daughter and Fluke-Ekren’s oldest son, now adults, both urged Judge Leonie Brinkema to impose the maximum 20-year sentence.

They told a federal court in Virginia they were physically and sexually abused by their mother. Fluke-Ekren denied the abuse.

The daughter, Leyla Ekren, gave a victim impact statement in which she said “lust for control and power” drove her mother to drag the family half way across the world to join Islamic State.

She said her mother became skilled at hiding the abuse she inflicted.

She said Fluke-Ekren once poured a lice medication all over her face as a punishment and it started to blister her face and burn her eyes.

Fluke-Ekren then tried to wash the chemicals off her daughter’s face, but Leyla Ekren resisted.

“I wanted people to see what kind of person she was. I wanted it to blind me,” she said as her mother sat a few feet away, resting her head on her hand with a look of disbelief.

After her children testified, Fluke-Ekren glared in their direction.

From a Kansas farm to war-torn Syria 

Fluke-Ekren’s status as a US-born woman who rose to a leadership status in the Islamic State makes her story unique among terror cases.

Prosecutors said the abuse she inflicted on her children from a young age helped explain how she went from an 33-hectare farm in Overbrook, Kansas, US, to an Islamic State leader in Syria.

First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh said Fluke-Ekren’s family sent her to an elite private school in Topeka and that she grew up in a stable home.

Mr Parekh said Fluke-Ekren’s immediate family was unanimous in its desire to see her punished to the maximum extent possible, a circumstance the veteran prosecutor described as extremely rare.

“There is nothing in Fluke-Ekren’s background that can explain her conduct, which was driven by fanaticism, power, manipulation, delusional invincibility, and extreme cruelty,” Parekh said.

Fluke-Ekren was found guilty of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organisation.

She asked for just a two-year sentence so she could raise her young children.

At the start of a lengthy, tearful speech, she said she took responsibility for her actions but sought to rationalise and minimise her conduct.

“We just lived a very normal life,” she told the judge about her time in Syria, showing pictures of her kids at a weekly pizza dinner.

She denied the abuse allegations, and tried to accuse her oldest son of manipulating her daughter into making them.

‘Empress of ISIS’ taught young girls how to use suicide belts

Fluke-Ekren portrayed the Khatiba Nusaybah as something more akin to a community centre for women that morphed into a series of self-defence classes as it became clear that the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold where she lived, faced invasion.

She acknowledged that women and girls were taught to use suicide belts and automatic weapons but portrayed it as safety training to avoid accidents in a war zone where such weapons were common.

Judge Brinkema made it clear she was unimpressed by Fluke-Ekren’s justifications.

At one point, Fluke-Ekren explained the need for women to defend themselves against the possibility of rape by enemy soldiers.

“Sexual violence is not OK in any circumstance,” she said.

Ms Brinkema interrupted to ask Fluke-Ekren about the daughter’s allegation that she was forced to marry an Islamic State fighter who raped her at the age of 13.

“She was a few weeks away from 14,” Fluke-Ekren responded in protest, later saying: “It was her decision. I never forced her.”

Mr Parekh described Fluke-Ekren as an “empress of ISIS”, whose husbands rose to senior ranks in the so-called Islamic State, often to be killed in fighting.

Even within Islamic State, people who knew Fluke-Ekren described her radicalisation as “off the charts”.

Other terrorist groups refused her plans to form a female battalion until she finally found a taker in the Islamic State, Mr Parekh said.

Fluke-Ekren’s actions “added a new dimension to the darkest side of humanity,” he added.

In addition to forming the battalion, Fluke-Ekren admitted that while living in Libya, she helped translate, review and summarise documents taken from US diplomatic facilities after the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *