A 19-year-old Colorado woman and Islamic convert who admitted that she planned to travel overseas to join Islamic State militants was due to be sentenced by a federal judge on Friday.
Shannon Maureen Conley has been held without bond since federal agents arrested her last April at Denver International Airport as she prepared to board a plane bound for Germany.
In September, Conley pleaded guilty in Denver federal court to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State, designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization.
Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is Sunni Muslim militant group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria and has beheaded several Western captives. In recent online videos, the group has threatened to execute two Japanese nationals unless paid a $200 million ransom.
Conley, a convert to Islam from suburban Denver, struck up an online relationship last year with a Tunisian man, identified as Yousr Mouelhi, who said he was a member of the insurgent group, according to an FBI arrest warrant affidavit.
“During their communications, Conley and Mouelhi shared their view of Islam as requiring participation in violent jihad,” according to the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.
Conley, a certified nurse’s aid, went to a U.S. Army Explorers camp in Texas, and had firearms and first-aid training in preparation to wage war against those she considered infidels, court papers showed.
Federal agents met with Conley several times in an attempt to dissuade from joining the militant group. But Conley told them she planned to marry Mouelhi and join the fighters to “correct the wrongs against the Muslim world,” even though she knew it was illegal, the FBI affidavit said.
Conley faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors agreed not to seek the maximum penalty because of her guilty plea and cooperation with investigations, according to the plea agreement.
Following her guilty plea, public defender Robert Pepin said Conley, although still a devout Muslim, has renounced radical Islam and was horrified when she learned of the “slaughter and oppression” practiced by Islamic State.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Doina Chiacu)