Teen Who Danced With ISIS Says Arrest Saved Her LIfe

     DENVER (CN) – A 19-year-old Colorado woman who pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to provide support to ISIS said that her arrest saved her life.
     Shannon Conley, 19, of Arvada, Colo. started talking to a man online this year who claimed to be fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS). The two shared their views on Islam as requiring participation in violent Jihad and eventually Conley and the man decided to become engaged. The pair also decided to send Conley to attend The U.S. Army Explorers to be trained in military tactics and firearms. She also obtained first aid certification from the National Rifle Association.
     On March 29, Conley’s new fiancé and others arranged for her to fly to Turkey from Denver on April 8. She was arrested by the FBI while attempting to board the flight at Denver International Airport.
     According to Department of Justice Spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner, FBI special agents met with Conley before her flight to try to persuade her not to carry out her travel plans and join a terrorist group to engage in violent jihad. However, she decided to continue her plan.
     Wearing a green hijab, or headscarf, and a gray and white jail jumpsuit, the soft-spoken Conley appeared in U.S. District Court Wednesday morning for a change in plea hearing with U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore presiding. Conley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
     As part of a plea agreement, Conley agreed to divulge information to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in exchange for a lowered sentence. She faces up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
     Judge Moore set Conley’s sentencing hearing for Jan. 23, 2015. He also is calling for a psychiatric evaluation to be conducted before sentencing.
     Calling her by her Islamic name “Halima,” Conley’s attorney Robert Pepin said his client regrets her decision to support ISIS.
     “Halima is a woman of faith and unfortunately as she pursued her study of that faith, she was led terribly astray. That in turn led to her making some very poor choices. She is now paying for those choices,” Pepin said. “Halima has been horrified to learn of the slaughter and oppression at the hands of those controlling ISIS. It was never her vision to have any role in such horror.”
     He said Conley believes her arrest was a good thing.
     “Halima is fully aware that the fact that she was arrested may very well have saved her,” Pepin said.
     Conley’s online relationship with an ISIS fighter is not the first time she has shown signs of wanting to engage in terrorist acts. In 2013, Conley attended Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada as the church prepared to welcome more than 1,000 Jews into their chapel for an annual homage to the Holy Land. A senior pastor at Faith Bible Chapel of Arvada notified the FBI when he started to notice Conley stalking the church and making drawings of interior rooms.
     According to the Denver Post, Senior Pastor George Morrison of the church said he thought Conley was a “terrorist wannabe” but he had to take her actions seriously since a 2007 murder spree at the church’s missionary training center.
     The FBI said she told them that she “hated those people” at the church for the support of Israel and claimed “if they think I’m a terrorist, I’ll give them something to think I am.”

%d bloggers like this: