Colorado woman accused of aiding Islamist rebels reaches plea deal

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 11, 2014 3:32 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado woman accused of conspiring to provide support to Islamist insurgents waging war against the governments of Syria and Iraq has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, the U.S. Attorney's Office said on Monday.

Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, has been in custody since her arrest in April for allegedly planning to join the Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIS or ISIL, which has shortened its name to Islamic State.

Lawyers defending the suburban Denver teen filed a "notice of disposition" in Denver federal court in the case on Friday, court documents show.

"A notice of disposition is generally filed by the defense to notify the court that an agreement between the prosecution and the defense has been reached, where the defendant has agreed to plead guilty," Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Walsh, said in a statement.

Details of the plea have not been released and a change of plea hearing will be set at a later date, Dorschner said.

Conley was charged by federal prosecutors with one count of providing material support to a "designated foreign terrorist organization," according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

She was arrested at Denver International Airport as she was preparing to board a plane for Germany, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed with the court.

Agents with an FBI terrorism task force learned of Conley's online correspondence with a purported Islamist fighter from Tunisia, and that she planned to join him to do battle overseas.

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Islamic State is an al Qaeda offshoot that seeks to create a medieval-style caliphate from the Mediterranean to the Gulf and deems all infidels as deserving of death.

Federal agents met repeatedly with Conley, who is a certified nurse's aide, in an effort to dissuade her, but she insisted the only way to "correct the wrongs against the Muslim world"  was to fight.

She further stated that if she is not allowed to fight because she is a woman, "she will use her medical training to aid Jihadi fighters," the affidavit said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jim Loney)