ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Kansas mom and former teacher who’s facing terrorism charges for her alleged role as the leader of an all-female ISIS brigade is not contesting detention while she’s awaiting trial.
Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, believed to be the mother of at least five children, was deemed too dangerous to be released by a federal court, as prosecutors argued her participation in ISIS as enough reason to keep her in detention while she fights her charges. Fluke-Ekren was flown to Alexandria over the weekend after being arrested in Syria by the FBI, and now faces charges of conspiring to provide material support or resources to ISIS. If convicted, she could serve a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
Other charges could be filed against Fluke-Ekren as the FBI continues its investigation into her activities abroad, according to court documents.
The Department of Justice alleged Fluke-Ekren was intent on carrying out “violent jihad” in the U.S. and offered up lethal plots to senior ISIS commanders, including to the now–slain leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, targeting a shopping mall and an unnamed U.S. campus. The Kansas native was set to take part in those plots, but she soon became pregnant and was, as the government alleges in court documents, sidelined by ISIS leadership from any operations.
U.S. prosecutor Raj Parekh said in court that her participation in an “exceptionally violent and callous terrorist organization” like ISIS warranted her continued detention. The DOJ is alleging that Fluke-Ekren, who appeared somber in court, wearing a black hijab over an inmates uniform, is a bonafide national security threat.
Fluke-Ekren’s high-profile defense attorney, Joseph King, complied with the government’s request to keep his client from being released.
King was appointed Monday as Fluke-Ekren’s public defender and is a top criminal defense lawyer in Alexandria.
Part of a federal complaint first filed in 2019 and unsealed Saturday alleges that Fluke-Ekren, who reportedly remarried several times while in the so-called caliphate to various ISIS fighters in Syria, was the senior commander of “Khatiba Nusaybah,” an all-female ISIS unit that trained women and children how to use automatic assault rifles, grenades, and suicide belts.
The circumstances of Fluke-Ekren’s arrest remain unknown as various aspects of the case are under federal seal due to national security concerns. The DOJ, which filed a protective order on certain materials and aspects of the case to Fluke-Ekren and her defense team, said in a media release that she was “previously apprehended in Syria and transferred into the custody of the FBI.”
Both King and the DOJ declined to comment to VICE News regarding the circumstances when asked if U.S. forces originally apprehended her.
The FBI also directed any requests to the DOJ when asked if American soldiers were the ones to apprehend Fluke-Ekren in Syria. The Pentagon’s special forces teams are currently operating in Syria and nearby Iraq and were responsible for the recent killing of the leader of ISIS. Other ISIS terror suspects who were arrested and then faced charges in U.S. courts were in the custody of Kurdish forces. In those cases, the DOJ publicly noted that they were transferred to U.S. authorities from those local Syrian authorities, which Fluke-Ekren’s release does not note.
In what they called an “atypical request” in her initial court appearance Monday, U.S. prosecutors asked the courts to bar the alleged ISIS operative from contacting her family living in the U.S. while she is in custody, which included adult children and her parents.
At the time the judge noted that would be difficult to enforce legally, but said, in light of the request from the family, if Fluke-Ekren contacted them against their wishes, it could be negatively considered during her bond hearing.