DENVER — A Colorado teenager plead guilty on Wednesday to a charge of conspiracy to assist the Islamic terror group ISIS.
Shannon Conley, 19, was first turned into police last fall when she was seen acting suspiciously while visiting Faith Bible Church in Arvada, and has been investigated on several occasions.
Reports state that she met a 32-year-old ISIS member Yousr Mouelhi online and began communicating with him on Skype. The two sought to marry, but Conley’s father refused to give his blessing to the relationship. He called the police when he discovered that his daughter had obtained a plane ticket to Turkey.
She was taken into custody at the Denver International Airport this past April as she was set to fly to Germany and then on to an ISIS camp near Turkey, where she would wait to hear from Mouelhi. Conley, who is a certified nurse’s aide, told investigators that she was was going to serve as a nurse at a jihadist camp, and wished to help wage jihad against the United States.
On Wednesday, she plead guilty of a conspiracy charge in federal court as part of a plea deal that required her to also divulge information about others that are seeking to join terrorist groups overseas. The Department of Defense outlined last week that it is believed that at least a dozen Americans are currently fighting with ISIS in Syria, although Col. Steve Warren noted, “We believe that there are approximately 100 American passport holders operating inside of Syria, [and] we don’t know specifically who they are aligning themselves with.”
Conley faces a maximum of five years in prison as part of the plea deal, as well as a $250,000 fine. Her sentencing is scheduled for January, and the teen has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
But Conley is not the first American to be arrested this year for attempting to assist ISIS. Yahoo News! reports that 23-year-old Michael Todd Wolfe plead guilty in June after he was nabbed at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where he was seeking to fly to Denmark and then on to Syria to join ISIS. He faces a maximum of 15 years behind bars and a fine of $250,000.
Rahatul Ashikim Khan, also 23 and a student at the University of Texas at Austin, was arrested the same month for conspiring with others to recruit individuals to travel overseas to work with terrorist organizations and wage jihad. Investigators state that Khan remarked that he “could not wait to spill blood.” He faces the same penalties as Conley.
As previously reported, former North Carolina police officer Donald Morgan appeared in court last Thursday on weapons charges just weeks after he was apprehended by the FBI while returning home from an attempt to join ISIS. He had spent the past eight months in Lebanon as he sought entry into Syria to assist the group.
“I purchased the ticket with the intent of entering to Syria, either joining up with medical and food aid convoys or directly with Islamic State,” Morgan said. “My reason for the support of ISIS is because they’ve proven time and time again to put Islamic law as the priority and the establishment of an Islamic state as the goal.”
“Americans and other Westerners with legal travel documents are going to Syria to join the fight and are being trained by jihadists to attack Western targets,” Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told local television station KXAN. “This war is not over and the administration needs to face this crisis head on.”