A Colorado teen who allegedly fell in love with an ISIS member and tried to join the terrorist group was arrested attempting to board a flight to Germany. Officials say they attempted to dissuade the teen for months prior to her arrest.
Shannon Maureen Conley,19, was taken into custody at Denver airport April 8 and charged with conspiracy to provide support to a terrorist organization after FBI agents warned her about the illegal nature of her plans. Agents interviewed the Arvada, Colorado teen eight times over six months before she attempted to leave the country. During her interviews she repeatedly declared her support of Jihad and her intentions to help terrorist groups.
Conley first aroused suspicion in November, after she began attending services at Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada according to the criminal complaint. The church staff noticed Conley behaving strangely and confronted her. She informed them of her Islamic beliefs and asked why the church was about a terrorist attack. Church officials asked her not to return and reported her to authorities.
FBI agents interviewed Conley shortly after church staff reported her. When the he asked why she began attending she said, “I hate those people.”
Agents interviewed Conley several additional times between November and April. Each time she expressed her intentions to wage Jihad. In December, she them she joined the U.S. Army’s Explorer program to train in military tactics and firearms.
Conley, a certified nurse’s aide told FBI agents that her goal was to use what she learned to go overseas to wage Jihad and to train Islamic Jihadists. She said that if should was not allowed to fight because she was a woman, that she would use her medical knowledge to aid Jihadist fighters. During the interview the agents informed her that her intentions were illegal which she acknowledged, according to the complaint.
During a January interview, Conley told the agents that she planned to travel to Iraq via Morocco, where she would find a Jihadist training camp. She said she would inform her family about her plans to wage Jihad when there was “nothing they could do about it.” The FBI agents repeatedly asked if she had considered doing humanitarian work with other Muslim organizations such as Red Crescent, to which she stated she had no interest. She said humanitarian work was not an option as it does not resolve the problem.
In March, Conley’s father, John informed the FBI that she had met a 32-year-old Tunisian man online, who claimed to be an ISIS fighter in Syria. The couple had asked for his blessing to marry and the man asked him to send Conley to Syria immediately. Conley had previously said she believed that, as a Muslim, she was required to marry young and to be confrontational about her beliefs.
Conley had admitted to knowing an ISIS fighter in Syria in a previous meeting with agents when they asked if she wanted to go there. Later that month, after speaking with her father, the agents met with Conley specifically to dissuade her from participating in any violent criminal activities and from supporting terrorist organizations.
Conley’s father notified the agents on April 1 that he had found a one-way ticket from Denver to Adana Turkey on his desk. When her parents confronted her about the ticket, telling her that she did not have their blessing to travel or to marry, she said she had thought about it and disagreed with Islam on the issue.
Conley reportedly fell in love with an ISIS fighter online and tried to become a teen bride to join the terrorist group, but was unsuccessful at her attempt to leave the country to get married. Authorities arrested her as she walked down the jet way to board the plane.
By Brandi M. Fleeks