U.S. Woman Accused of Prominent Role in Islamic State

Witnesses said Ms. Fluke-Ekren taught classes for members of the battalion, and on one occasion, a young child of hers was seen holding a machine gun. More than 100 women and girls received training from her, one witness said.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren had hoped to create a cadre of suicide bombers who could infiltrate enemies’ positions, but the effort never materialized, according to the complaint. She also told a witness about her desire to attack a shopping mall in the United States using a remote-detonated vehicle full of explosives.

Court documents said that after the death of her husband, Ms. Fluke-Ekren married another Islamic State terrorist, a Bangladeshi man who specialized in drones and worked on a plan to drop chemical bombs using them. He also died. She then married an Islamic State military leader who was responsible for the defense of Raqqa, a witness said.

Ms. Fluke-Ekren told a witness that she had tried to send a message to her family with the goal of tricking them into believing she was dead so the U.S. government would not try to find her. She also said that she never wanted to go back to the United States and wanted to die a martyr in Syria, according to the witness.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia have mounted an aggressive effort to prosecute terrorists captured overseas. The cases can be extremely difficult because witnesses and other evidence can often only be found in war zones, as well as because of geopolitical considerations.

Last year, Mohammed Khalifa, a Saudi-born Canadian who traveled to Syria in 2013 and later joined the Islamic State, was brought to the United States and charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization that resulted in death. Mr. Khalifa provided the narration and translation for approximately 15 videos created and distributed by the Islamic State. He later pleaded guilty and faces life in prison.

Two British men, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, who were part of an ISIS cell of four Britons called “the Beatles,” were brought to the United States in 2020 to face charges. The group, which was given that nickname by its victims because of the accents of its members, kidnapped and abused more than two dozen hostages, including the American journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff, both of whom were beheaded in propaganda videos.