A 19-year-old Colorado woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a number of al Qaeda affiliates.
According to the Justice Department, Shannon Conley of Arvada, Colo., and a co-conspirator unlawfully worked together with others to provide support and resources to the two groups between February and April.
Conley and her co-conspirator, a man, met on the Internet, and bonded over their support for violent jihad.
"The co-conspirator communicated to Conley that he was an active member of an al Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS)," said the DOJ in a statement.
"The two then decided to become engaged, and together, they worked to have Conley travel to Syria to join her new fiance,” the statement added. “Before traveling to Syria, Conley refined and obtained additional training and skills in order to provide support and assistance to any al Qaeda and/or ISIS fighter. Conley also intended to fight if it became necessary to do so.”
The guilty plea comes as fears grow that Americans are flocking to join ISIS and that members of the group with Western passports could return to their home countries to commit violence.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, said Wednesday that “several hundred” Americans might have traveled to Syria to fight with the Islamist group.
According to the DOJ, Conley also joined the U.S. Army Explorers to be trained in U.S. military tactics and weapons, and traveled to Texas where she obtained first aid training, as well as firearm certification from the National Rifle Association.
On numerous occasions, secret FBI agents attempted to persuade her not to travel overseas to fight, the DOJ said.
On March 29, 2014, Conley's co-conspirator, along with others, arranged for her to fly to Turkey from Denver.
On April 8, 2014, Conley was arrested by FBI agents as she attempted to board a flight to Turkey at Denver International Airport.
"A subsequent search of Conley’s home revealed DVDs of Anwar Al-Awlaki lectures and a number of books and articles about al Qaeda, its affiliate groups and jihad. Agents also recovered shooting targets labeled with the number of rounds fired and distances," the DOJ said.
Conley faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.