Kansas 'ISIS mom' pleads guilty to terrorism charges

Kansas ‘ISIS mom’ faces 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism charges: Woman admits to leading an all-female battalion that used AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts, but denies ‘intentionally’ training children to attack

  • Allison Fluke-Ekren plead guilty to federal terrorism charges on Tuesday
  • The Kansas ‘ISIS mom’ admitted to joining the terrorist group and leading an all-female battalion armed with AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts
  • She had wanted to recruit operatives to attack a US college campus and discussed launching a terrorist attack on a shopping mall 
  • She is also accused of trying to ransom her own children to their father and her first husband, James Fluke, after she left the US and became radicalized 
  • Fluke-Ekren admitted worked for the terrorist group and had provided military training to over 100 women and young girls
  • However, she denied allegations that she ‘intentionally’ trained young children to use weapons, telling the court: ‘They may have been in attendance’

This undated photo provided by the Alexandria, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office in January 2022 shows Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, who is accused of joining ISIS and leading an all-female battalion 

The Kansas mom who led an all-female Islamic State battalion in Syria and trained members to use assault rifles, grenades and suicide explosives has plead guilty to federal terrorism charges.

‘ISIS mom’ Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, of Topeka, admitted in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia on Tuesday that she worked for the terrorist group and had provided military training to over 100 women and young girls.

She will be sentenced on October 25 and faces up to 20 years in prison.  

Fluke-Ekren joined the terrorist organization in 2014 while living overseas and started leading the battalion in 2016. 

Prosecutors claim she wanted to recruit ISIS operatives to attack a college campus in the U.S. and had discussed a terrorist attack on a shopping mall. 

She also provided ISIS and its members with services, which included lodging, translating speeches made by ISIS leaders, teaching extremist ISIS doctrine and training children on the use of AK-47 assault rifles and suicide belts.

During her hearing Tuesday, Fluke-Ekren denied the allegations that she deliberately taught children how to use military-grade weapons.

‘We didn’t intentionally train any young girls,’ she told the courtroom, according to The Washington Post. ‘They may have been in attendance.’

She has also been accused by her ex-husband of trying ransom their children back to him after she fled with them to the Middle East.

Fluke-Ekren, who once lived in Kansas, moved with her second husband, Volkan Ekren, and four children to Egypt in 2008

Fluke-Ekren is pictured with her family riding camels and horses at the foot of the pyramids in Egypt. She later relocated to Syria, allegedly to join Islamic extremists

Prosecutors say Fluke-Ekren (pictured with her second husband and family) wanted to recruit operatives to attack a college campus in the U.S. and discussed a terrorist attack on a shopping mall

The affidavit also alleges Fluke-Ekren, who went by the names ‘Umm Mohammed al-Amriki,’ ‘Umm Mohammed,’ and ‘Umm Jabril,’ became a leader of an Islamic State unit called ‘Khatiba Nusaybah’ in the Syrian city of Raqqa in late 2016. 

The all-female unit comprised of the wives of male ISIS fighters was trained in the use of AK-47 rifles, grenades and suicide belts. 

The members of Khatiba Nusaybah were allegedly instructed on physical training, medical training, Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device driving courses, religious classes and how to pack and prepare a ‘go bag’ with military supplies. According to eyewitness accounts, some of these classes were allegedly taught by Fluke-Ekren. 

She also is accused of providing ISIS and ISIS members with services, which included lodging, translating speeches made by ISIS leaders, teaching extremist ISIS doctrine and training children on the use of AK-47 assault rifles and suicide belts.

At least one witness saw one of her children – approximately 6 or 7 years old – holding a machine gun in the family’s home in Syria, the affidavit states. 

She had vocalized her support for planning a mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil, alleging she wanted to recruit operatives to attack a college campus in the U.S.

She also discussed the idea of attacking a shopping mall by remotely detonating a car full of explosives in the parking garage.

She told one witness that ‘she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,’ according to an FBI affidavit.

The same witness said that when Fluke-Ekren would hear about terrorist attacks in countries outside the U.S., she would comment that she wished the attack occurred on American soil instead.

In all, the affidavit cites observations from six different witnesses, including some who have been charged with terrorism offenses and some who were held at prison camps for former Islamic state members. 

The criminal complaint against Fluke-Ekren was filed under seal in 2019 but not made public until she was brought back to the U.S. to face charges.

Fluke-Ekren is pictured with a group of friends during a visit to Wichita, Kansas in April 2010

A young Fluke-Ekren poses with a flower tucked behind her ear in a field near Topeka, in a photo taken during a outdoor photography class in the mid-1990s 

Fluke-Ekren moved to Egypt with her second husband, Volkan Ekren, and four children in 2008. 

She had traveled frequently between Egypt and the U.S. over the next three years. 

Prosecutors believe she moved to Syria around 2012. In early 2016, Volkan was killed in the Syrian city of Tell Abyad while trying to carry out a terrorist attack.

Later that year, prosecutors say she married a Bangladeshi ISIS member who specialized in drones, but he died in late 2016 or early 2017.

Four months after that man’s death, she again remarried a prominent Islamic state leader who was responsible for the Islamic State group’s defense of Raqqa, which became the capital of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate. 

She is believed to have had at least three more children, according to her family blog 4KansasKids, where she had been documenting the family’s life overseas until 2010.

A 2004 article about homeschooling in the Lawrence Journal-World featured Fluke-Ekren and her children. She told the paper she pulled her kids from public school because she was dissatisfied with how her children were performing in public and private schools. Homeschooling allowed her to teach Arabic to her kids. 

Fluke-Ekren was brought to the U.S. in January to face a criminal charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Until that point, she had not been in the U.S. since 2011.

In February 2009, Fluke-Ekren made a blog post about being a teacher. The above photo was taken on a field trip to a farm. She is believed to be pictured with two of her own children

Fluke-Ekren is pictured with a group of kids she referred to as ‘my class’ and ‘one big happy family’ in October 2009 

Fluke-Ekren also allegedly attempted to faker her own death and tried to ransom her own children back to their father, her first husband James Fluke.

According to the affidavit, the mother told one witness in 2018 that she instructed a person in Syria to tell Fluke-Ekren’s family she was dead so the U.S. government would not try to find her.

‘Fluke-Ekren informed this same witness and others that it was important to kill the kuffar (disbelievers) and die as martyrs on behalf of ISIS in Syria,’ the detention memo filed by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh states.

‘The witness also heard Fluke-Ekren state that she never wanted to return to the United States and that she wanted to die in Syria as a martyr.’ 

Her former sister-in-law, Amy Fluke, 49, also confirmed the alleged ransom plot to DailyMail.com in February, shortly after Fluke-Ekren had made her first appearances in U.S. court.

Amy said the ISIS mom began sending James emails and notes demanding more than $6,000 for the return of their two kids, shortly after moving abroad.

‘The first month they were away in Turkey we could still call and talk to Gabe and Alaina, but after that we lost all contact. And that broke my brother,’ Amy told DailyMail.com. ‘That’s when the really weird stuff started happening. It started with ransom notes.

‘We would get them by mail or emails. They were telling him he could have the kids back for a certain amount of money. Sometimes it was $5,000 or $6,000, and it started being more and more. I don’t remember the highest amount.

‘But we wanted to get the children back legally, so he didn’t pay any ransom. We were trying to fight for the opportunity to get them back to the United States to have a custody hearing, and that’s when we lost all contact with the children for about five or six years,’ she added.

It was not clear whether any ransom money would have been diverted to ISIS.


Fluke-Ekren met second husband Volkan Ekren  (left) – a member of a powerful family in Turkey – at university, when she was still married to James Fluke. The two went on to marry and have at least three more children, according to her family blog. They are pictured above with their son Zaid


According to family members, Fluke-Ekren’s eldest son, Gabriel (left) now 25, managed to escape to the US when he was 17 and has made a quiet new life for himself, but his sister Alaina, now 24, (right) remains missing and could still be in Syria

Volkan pictured with Gabriel, Alaina, and two of his children with Fluke-Ekren, Leyla and Nael (in the back)  in 2008

Her ex-husband, James, also spoked to DailyMail.com at the time, alleging he hoped she would spend the rest of her life in prison. 

‘I hope they lock her up and throw away the key,’ he told us in February. ‘She kidnapped my kids for ten years. She’s manipulative. She always has been. She’s always wanted the spotlight. There is no way to adequately describe how manipulative she is.’

Speaking at his modest home in a quiet corner of Topeka, Kansas, he continued: ‘Imagine your wife stabbing you with a sharp object and then for some odd reason she discusses this with you to the point where you are apologizing for it.

Asked about his reaction to the terrorist accusations against her, James added: ‘I can’t even wrap my head around it. I hope she gets what she deserves. I hope it’s done right.’ 

Back in January, during one of her initial court hearings, Parekh told the judge that he had been in contact with Ekren’s parents and her adult children, and all had said they wanted no contact with her.

James and Fluke-Ekren’s eldest son, Gabriel, now 25, managed to escape to the US when he was 17 and has made a quiet new life for himself, but his sister Alaina, 24, remains missing and could still be in Syria, the family said.

Volkan and Fluke-Ekren had a second daughter named Leyla, who is also now living safely in the United States. He escaped the Islamic radicalism with Gabriel.

DailyMail.com was not immediately able to confirm the whereabouts of her other children.

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