For the FBI and prosecutors, his conviction marked the end of a seven-year hunt. Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s hardened militancy, fervor and exceptionally high standing in the Islamic State stand out even among Americans who have traveled to wage jihad in Syria. The case was the first prosecution in the United States involving a female Islamic State military leader, First Deputy U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh said during Tuesday’s hearing.
A teenage mother from Overbrook, Kansas, Ms. Fluke-Ekren slowly embraced Islamic State ideology and had a knack for languages, according to Amy Farouk, a former friend.
“It was a way for her to feel important,” Ms. Farouk said. “It gave him a sense of purpose. »
Efforts to contact Ms. Fluke-Ekren’s family in Kansas were unsuccessful. But Ms Farouk, who said she met Ms Fluke-Ekren around 2001, filled in swaths of her life. At the time, Ms. Fluke-Ekren was a teacher at the Islamic School of Greater Kansas City.
After Ms. Fluke-Ekren had two children and her first marriage in Kansas fell apart, she met an international student from Turkey, Volkan Ekren, at the University of Kansas, where both majored in science. said Ms. Farouk. Ms Fluke-Ekren graduated in 2007 and then completed an education program at Earlham College in Indiana, prosecutors said.
The two eventually got married and had five children together, all of whom were born in the United States.