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American Teenager Arrested After Falling in Love With ISIL Terrorist Online


Militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate the group’s declaration of an Islamic state, in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, Iraq.
Image: AP Photo/Associated Press

A Colorado teenager has been arrested after reportedly falling in love with a radical Islamist militant online and trying to join him in Syria, according to authorities.

The FBI arrested Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, as she was trying to board a flight to Germany on April 8, en route to Turkey’s border with Syria, according to court documents unsealed on Wednesday. Conley is accused of “providing material support or resources” to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (also known as ISIL or ISIS), a designated terrorist group in the United States.

Conley, a licensed nurse, was allegedly flying to Syria to marry an unidentified 32-year-old Tunisian man she had met online. The man told her he was in Syria fighting along with ISIL, and that they needed nurses, according to an affidavit by one of the investigators in the case.

In November, the teenager, who had converted to Islam, was seen wandering around the campus of the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colorado, taking notes, according to the document. Her behavior led chapel staffers to believe she was taking notes of locations and the campus layout, and when they confronted her, she told them: “Why is the church worried about a terrorist attack?”

After this incident, investigators approached her and interviewed her several times. In her conversations with the investigators, who were not trying to hide their identities, Conley told them she was ready to wage Jihad and go overseas to fight, according to the affidavit.

“Conley was reminded, and acknowledged, that she had made statements to overt law enforcement about waging Jihad against the US,” the investigator said in the affidavit. “When asked if she still wanted to carry out the plans, knowing they are illegal, Conley said that she does.”

During the investigation, the agents met Conley’s parents. On April 1, Conley’s father allegedly warned the agents that Conley had bought a ticket to Turkey, telling her parents that she intended to travel overseas and marry the Tunisian man. A week later, FBI agents arrested her as she was trying to board her flight at the Denver International Airport. During the investigation, they reportedly found materials about jihad and al-Qaeda at Conley’s house.

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