The FBI routinely gets accused of entrapment when arresting potential home-grown jihadis, but the curious case of Shannon Maureen Conley demonstrates just how far the agency will go to avoid an arrest. Agents arrested Conley in April, according to an indictment unsealed last night, when she attempted to board a plane to Turkey to marry an ISIS fighter and support the jihad cause. The FBI had previously tried to get her to change her mind, involving her parents and even a local mosque to convince her to find moderate means to support Muslims abroad. Conley didn’t take the hint:
A Colorado woman was arrested at the Denver airport in April and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, according to court documents that were unsealed Wednesday.
Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, allegedly told FBI agents before her arrest that she was going to be with a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, that she had met through the Internet.
“It’s a difficult time for us,” her mother, Ana Conley, told CNN on Wednesday.
Conley’s attorney, Robert William Pepin, said he had no comment.
His client was arrested on a jetway while trying to board a flight to Germany on April 8, according to a criminal complaint. She told investigators she was going to Turkey to await word from her suitor.
Conley, a certified nurse aide, had told FBI agents she was going to be the man’s wife and a nurse in a ISIS camp near the Turkish border, documents showed.
But that wasn’t the first time agents had talked to Conley. The FBI tried for five months to divert Conley’s actions into more lawful and less dangerous directions:
FBI agents became aware of Conley’s growing interest in extremism in November after she started talking about terrorism with employees of a suburban Denver church who found her wandering around and taking notes on the layout of the campus, according to the court documents. The church, Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, was the scene of a 2007 shooting in which a man killed two missionary workers.
She spoke with agents several times after that, telling them of her desire for jihad, the records state. The agents tried openly to dissuade her, urging her instead to support Muslims through humanitarian efforts, which she told them was not an option.
“Conley felt that Jihad is the only answer to correct the wrongs against the Muslim world,” the documents say.
Agents encouraged Conley’s parents to get her to meet with elders at her mosque to find more moderate options. Her parents knew she had converted to Islam but were apparently unaware of her extremism, authorities said.
And even after that, FBI agents kept trying — almost literally until the moment she walked onto the jetway:
Her father told an agent in March that Conley and her suitor had asked for his blessing to marry and were surprised when he declined. Her father later found a one-way plane ticket to Turkey.
Four days before her arrest, she told agents “there was nothing they could do to change her mind and that she was still going.” They stopped her as she was walking down the jetway.
Bummer of a case, Mr. Pepin. Best of luck with your upcoming insanity plea for Ms. Conley.