A Kansas woman who led an all-female ISIS battalion in Syria has been given the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Allison Fluke-Ekren, who grew up in Overbrook, pleaded guilty to “terrorism” charges earlier this year.
Prosecutors described Fluke-Ekren, who converted to Islam while a student at the University of Kansas, as the “empress of ISIS.” Authorities say trained women and girls as young as 10 on how to use automatic weapons and detonate grenades and suicide belts. Authorities say the 42-year-old also discussed carrying out attacks inside the United States.
During a Tuesday hearing in federal court in northern, Fluke-Ekren said in a lengthy speech that she took responsibility for her actions but spent most of the time 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 children at a weekly pizza dinner.
After being captured in Syria, Fluke-Ekren was brought to the US in late January to face charges.
Her own children denounced her in court and described being physically and sexually abused by their mother.
Fluke-Ekren’s daughter said in a victim impact statement read at Tuesday’s hearing that a “lust for control and power” drove her mother to take the family halfway across the world to find the ISIL (ISIS) group.
She said her mother became skilled at hiding the abuse she inflicted.
She described an incident where her mother allegedly poured an off-brand lice medication all over her face as punishment, causing her face to blister and her eyes to burn. Fluke-Ekren then tried to wash the chemicals off, but her daughter resisted.
“I wanted people to see what kind of person she was. I wanted it to blind me,” she said.
Fluke-Ekren has denied the abuse allegations. She also portrayed the all-women brigade she led as 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 ISIL (ISIS) stronghold where she lived, faced invasion.
First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh said even within ISIS, people who knew Fluke-Ekren described her ideology as “off the charts”.
Fluke-Ekren’s actions “added a new dimension to the darkest side of humanity”, Parekh said.
Fluke-Ekren worked as a teacher in the US before leaving the country and subsequently joining ISIS in Syria, according to the Department of Justice.
The terrorist organization controlled large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria from 2014 until its territorial defeat late in 2017 during the Trump administration.