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September 11, 2014 7:14 am

Colorado Female Teen Sought Military Training Before Trying to Join ISIS

avatar by Abha Shankar

Stephen Sotloff with ISIS captor Photo: screengrab

Steven Sotloff with ISIS captor. Photo: screengrab.

A Colorado teen pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The conspiracy started earlier this year when 19-year-old Shannon Conley of Arvada, Colorado, met an ISIS member on the Internet, who identified himself as Yousr Mouelhi.

In their communications, Conley and Mouelhi “shared their view of Islam as requiring participation in violent jihad,” the plea agreement said. The two later decided to get engaged and worked with other unnamed co-conspirators to arrange for Conley to travel to Syria to be with Mouelhi.

According to the plea agreement, Conley was fully aware that ISIS was a designated terrorist organization. She joined the U.S. Army Explorers (USAE) to learn military tactics and firearms use in hopes of fighting for ISIS forces in the future. FBI agents met with Conley several times to persuade her to not travel overseas to wage violent jihad, but she would not give up her jihadi ambitions. In March, Mouelhi and other conspirators helped Conley buy an airline ticket to travel to Turkey. She was arrested April 8 at Denver International Airport while trying to board her flight.

A search of Conley’s home revealed jihadi materials that included DVDs of lectures by now-deceased American-born Yemeni al-Qaida cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as “a number of books and articles about Al-Qaeda, its affiliate groups, and jihad.” Agents also found “shooting targets labeled with the number of rounds fired and distances.”

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Conley faces up to to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Conley’s admission of her support for ISIS comes in the wake of the recent killings of Americans fighting for jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq.

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