AP

Kansas mom gets 20 years for leading Islamic State battalion

Nov 1, 2022, 2:18 PM
handcuffs...
FILE

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A Kansas native who led an all-female Islamic State battalion when she lived in Syria has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, the maximum possible sentence, after her own children denounced her in court and detailed the horrific circumstances and abuse she heaped on them.

Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, admitted that she led the Khatiba Nusaybah, a battalion in which roughly 100 women and girls — some as young as 10 years old — learned how 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 both urged the judge to impose a maximum sentence.

They said they were physically and sexually abused by their mother, and described the mistreatment in horrific detail in letters to the court. Fluke-Ekren denied the abuse.

The daughter, Laila Ekren, said “lust for control and power” drove her mother to drag the family half way across the world to find a terrorist group that would allow Fluke-Ekren to flourish, during a victim impact statement she gave at the hearing.

She said her mother became skilled at hiding the abuse she inflicted. She described a circumstance where her mother poured an off-brand 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 washthe chemicals off her daughers’s face, but Laila 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. She later glared in the direction of her children after they testified.

Fluke-Ekren’s status as a U.S.-born woman who rose to a level of leadership status in the Islamic State makes her story unique among terror cases. Prosecutors say the abuse she inflicted on her children from a young age helps explain how she went from an 81-acre (33-hectare) farm in Overbrook, Kansas, to an Islamic State leader in Syria, with stops in Egypt and Libya along the way.

Fluke-Ekren asked for just a two-year sentence so she could raise her young children. She said at the outset of a lengthy, weepy speech that she takes responsibility for her actions but spent most of her speech rationalizing and minimizing 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 against her, and tried to accuse her oldest son of manipulating her daughter into making them.

She portrayed the Khatiba Nusaybah as something more akin to a community center for women that morphed into a series of self-defense classes as it became clear that the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold where she lived, faced siege and 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 Leonie Brinkema, though, made 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.

That prompted an interruption from Brinkema, who asked Fluke-Ekren about the daughter’s allegation that she was forced to marry an ISIS 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.”

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh, described Fluke-Ekren as an “empress of ISIS” whose husbands rose to senior ranks in the Islamic State, often only to be killed in fighting.

Even within the Islamic State, people who knew her described her radicalization as “off the charts.”

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

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

AP

People attend a candlelight vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols at the Tobey Skate Park on January 26, ...
Adrian Sainz

7th Memphis officer disciplined, EMTs fired in Nichols death

Memphis police say two more officers involved in the arrest, beating and death of Tyre Nichols have been disciplined.
13 hours ago
R&B singer R. Kelly (L) arrives at the Cook County courthouse where jury selection is scheduled to ...
Claire Savage and Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Chicago prosecutor dropping R. Kelly sex-abuse charges

A Chicago prosecutor said Monday that she's dropping sex-abuse charges against singer R. Kelly following federal convictions in two courts that should guarantee the disgraced R&B star will be locked up for decades.
2 days ago
Amy Robach and TJ Holmes attend the 2022 ABC Disney Upfront at Basketball City - Pier 36 - South St...
Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network.
2 days ago
FILE - Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey gets ready to spin his popular "Wheel of Fugitive" in July...
Associated Press

Florida sheriff sued for ‘Wheel of Fugitive’ defamation

A man has filed a defamation lawsuit against a Florida sheriff who posts weekly “Wheel of Fugitive” videos on social media.
2 days ago
Police tape hangs from a sign post outside Richneck Elementary School following a shooting on Janua...
Ben Finley and Denise Lavoie

School where boy shot teacher reopens with added security

The Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher has reopened with stepped-up security and a new administrator.
2 days ago
RowVaughn Wells speaks to attendees during a candlelight vigil for her son Tyre Nichols at the Tobe...
Adrian Sainz

6th Memphis officer relieved of duty in Nichols arrest

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A sixth Memphis Police Department officer has been disciplined for his involvement in the brutal beating and arrest of Tyre Nichols, a department spokeswoman said Monday. Officer Preston Hemphill was relieved of duty shortly after the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who died three days later at a hospital, Memphis police […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Kansas mom gets 20 years for leading Islamic State battalion