From professor to jihadist: A former battalion leader of the Islamic State sentenced to 20 years in prison

From professor to jihadist: A former battalion leader of the Islamic State sentenced to 20 years in prison

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An American jihadist, who was one of the rare leaders of a female battalion of the Islamic State (IS) group, was sentenced on Tuesday to 20 years in prison.  

Allison Fluke-Ekren, a 42-year-old mother nicknamed “Oum Mohammed al-Amiriki”, pleaded guilty in June to “material support for a terrorist enterprise”.

During the hearing intended for to set her sentence, in a court in Alexandria, near Washington, she asked federal judge Leonie Brinkema to show “compassion” and sentence her to just two years in prison. 

“I deeply regret my choices,” she pleaded, her hair covered with a black scarf.

But prosecutor Raj Parekh stressed that she had “de facto become an empress of IS”. She “brainwashed young girls whom she trained to kill”, he added, noting that she had also caused her own children to suffer.

One of her daughters, who she forced to 'marry' an IS fighter when she was just 13, said her mother was driven by 'a desire for control and power'. “I want people to know what kind of person she is,” added Leyla Ekren with great nervousness.

Between 2012 and 2019, Allison Fluke-Ekren supported jihadist organizations in Libya, Iraq and Syria, where she provided military training to more than 100 women. In June, she notably admitted having taught her companions, some of whom were only 10 or 11 years old, to handle assault rifles or explosive belts.

Asked to place her on a scale of radicalization from one to ten, a person who knew her at that time felt that she “stepped out of the grid” and deserved an “11 or 12”, according to the file of accusation.

Nothing, however, seemed to destine her for such a career.

Born Allison Brooks, she grew up on a farm, had an uneventful schooling and married in a Methodist church in the late 1990s. Became Mrs. Fluke, she had two children before divorcing.

She quickly remarried a man named Volkan Ekren and converted to Islam. In 2008, the family left s settled in Egypt, where she began her radical drift.

University and mall

In 2011, Allison Fluke-Ekren traveled to Libya with her husband and children. According to the US Department of Justice, her husband stole documents after the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, and she helped him analyze and summarize them for Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda.

They joined Syria around 2012, where her husband became a sniper for IS. Armed with a knowledge of weapons acquired on her parents' farm, she is responsible for training other women in the basics of using AK-47s and grenades.

To “revenge” the children killed in a bombardment, she proposes to organize an attack in an American university. Pregnant, she gives up this project. A little later, she foments a new plan: to go after a shopping center in the United States. This time, her husband dissuades her from taking action.

In 2015, he died in a bombing. In the following years, she will remarry three times with other members of the group and will have four new children (eleven in total).

At the same time, she forms a female battalion, “the Katiba Noussaïba” , which came into action in February 2017 to help defend Raqa. After the fall of the city, she asks a witness to tell her family that she is dead, in order to avoid legal proceedings.

This scheme will not have worked. In January 2022, she was repatriated to the United States.