Colorado Arrest Highlights Increasing Pull Of ISIS » ADL Blogs
Latest Developments and Trends in Extremism & Terrorism
July 3, 2014 0

Colorado Arrest Highlights Increasing Pull Of ISIS

shannon-maureen-conley-isis-iraq-terrorism-denver

Shan­non Mau­reen Conley

The arrest of a 19 year-old Col­orado woman in April for attempt­ing to travel to Syria to aid the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), demon­strates the increased allure of ISIS and the Syria con­flict for Amer­i­cans look­ing to join ter­ror groups abroad. The arrest was made pub­lic today.

The woman, Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley, was arrested on April 8, 2014, at Den­ver Inter­na­tional Air­port, where she was attempt­ing to board a flight to Ger­many en route to Iraq. Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Con­ley was appar­ently hop­ing to meet and marry an ISIS mem­ber with whom she had been com­mu­ni­cat­ing online. She then allegedly hoped to use her skills as a nurse on behalf of ISIS, or to fight with them “if necessary.”

Con­ley report­edly had attempted to receive U.S. mil­i­tary train­ing that she hoped to use to aid ISIS by join­ing the U.S. Army Explor­ers, a pro­gram that exposes youth to mil­i­tary career oppor­tu­ni­ties and occu­pa­tional skills. In con­ver­sa­tions with FBI agents, she allegedly referred to U.S. mil­i­tary bases as “targets.”

Con­ley appears to have been influ­enced by online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda, com­mu­ni­cated with alleged ISIS mem­bers on the Inter­net and, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, allegedly pos­sessed a series of “mate­ri­als about jihad and Al-Qaeda” includ­ing “a num­ber of CD/DVDs labeled ‘Anwar al-Awlaki.’”

Con­ley went by the name Hal­ima on her Face­book pro­file, where she described her job as “Slave of Allah.”

Con­ley is one of 5 U.S. cit­i­zens arrested this year on ter­ror­ism charges, 4 of whom were charged with attempt­ing to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in Syria – Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas and Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia also allegedly attempted to join ISIS, while Moham­mad Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan allegedly attempted to join Hezbol­lah. Con­ley, Wolfe and Teau­sant are also all con­verts to Islam.

Intel­li­gence esti­mates indi­cate that at least 100 Amer­i­cans have trav­elled to join the Syria con­flict since it began in 2011. Alto­gether, between 12,000 and 15,000 for­eign fight­ers are believed to have joined the conflict.

Court doc­u­ments indi­cate that Con­ley also exhib­ited threat­en­ing behav­ior at home, draw­ing dia­grams of and threat­en­ing a local church, which she claimed to par­tic­u­larly hate for its sup­port of Israel.

She report­edly posted a link to her Face­book page from “Acknowl­edge Apartheid Exists” about a Pales­tin­ian farmer who was sup­pos­edly shot by Israeli troops.

Although there have been sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror threats from a num­ber of women such as Colleen LaRose (“Jihad Jane”), women are arrested on ter­ror charges far less often than men. The ADL has doc­u­mented 13 female cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents of the U.S. arrested on ter­ror­ism charges since 2002.