Allison Fluke-Ekren, a 42-year-old woman who grew up on a farm in Overbrook, Kansas, was sentenced to two decades in prison on Tuesday for leading the Khatiba Nusaybah, an all-female ISIS battalion in Raqqa, Syria.

Fluke-Ekren’s own children asked the judge to hand down the maximum sentence, 20 years, during victim impact statements at the hearing.

Fluke-Ekren tearfully spoke to the judge before her sentencing. “I deeply regret my choices, but I also deeply sympathize with women abused and raped in Syria.”

In a plea deal made with the government, Fluke-Ekren admitted she translated and analyzed documents taken from the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after the terrorist attack on the facility in 2012.

She tried to explain to the court some of her actions during the seven years she spent in Syria. “I was afraid of my conduct in Benghazi. I just didn’t see a way out.”

This undated photo provided by the Alexandria, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office in January 2022 shows Allison Fluke-Ekren, a Kansas native convicted of leading an all-female battalion of the Islamic State group. 
(Alexandria Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Fluke-Ekren also stressed that for most of her time in Syria, she had been just a mother, caring for her several children as well as other children and their mothers.

Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema said she did not find Fluke-Ekren’s claims “wholly credible,” saying she had “downplayed the impact” of her role in the Benghazi attack. “I don’t believe you were a passive dupe. You knowingly and voluntarily were an accessory after the fact.”

The judge continued, “There’s no question you were providing material support for a terrorist organization,” and emphasized several times during the hearing that was the crime for which Fluke-Ekren would be sentenced.

Earlier in the sentencing hearing, two of Fluke-Ekren’s adult children gave emotional statements against their mother.

Layla Ekren was visibly trembling in court for nearly an hour before she got her chance to tell Brinkema that her mother abused her as a child. She told the court about one instance in Syria when the family had lice, and her mother held her down on the ground and poured the medicine on her eyes in an apparent attempt to blind her.

Layla Ekren also told the story of how when she was 13, her mother married her “to a random ISIS fighter as a sex slave… I have felt degraded my entire life.”

Later, Brinkema pressed Fluke-Ekren on the marriage of her 13-year-old daughter in Syria. 

“She was a few weeks from turning 14,” said Fluke-Ekren. 

A fighter holding an ISIS flag and a weapon on a street on June 23, 2014.

A fighter holding an ISIS flag and a weapon on a street on June 23, 2014.
(Reuters, File)

“I don’t think that makes much of a difference,” Brinkema replied.


First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh laid out the allegations against Fluke-Ekren in a sentencing memo, writing that she urged a woman to commit a suicide bombing and told others that her oldest son was born after she was raped by an American soldier as a way to gain favor with other terrorists.

“Allison Fluke-Ekren brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill. She carved a path of terror, plunging her own children into unfathomable depths of cruelty by physically, psychologically, emotionally, and sexually abusing them,” Parekh wrote in the memo. 

A masked Islamic State soldier holding the ISIS flag in 2015. 

A masked Islamic State soldier holding the ISIS flag in 2015. 
(History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images, File)

Fluke-Ekren contested that the Khatiba Nusaybah, which trained girls as young as 10 years old to use suicide belts and automatic weapons, was more of a community center for women in Raqqa. 


She asked to be sentenced to just two years. “We just lived a very normal life,” Fluke-Ekren told the judge about her family’s time in Syria. 

Gabriel Fluke, the defendant’s adult son, said his mother had “piece by piece taken away every friend and family” he ever had, and later tried to get him to leave the U.S. to return to Syria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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