She was merely "lonely," her lawyers claim.
Although its roots are complicated and its effects have been long-lasting, ISIS is easily one of the scariest terrorist groups in modern history. With the amount of terrorism and horror that ISIS has committed and taken credit for over the years, it’s hard to imagine why anyone of sane mind would want to become involved with the organization. That’s why this woman’s attempt join up with her ISIS fighting husband is so shocking — especially considering that she was willing to abandon her children to do so.
“Cutting Heads is More Personal”
To most people who knew Keonna Thomas, she probably looked like any other mother. A Philly local, she was a mother of two who was hiding a relationship that was more shocking than most of her acquaintances would know.
She recently faced court after admitting that she planned to give material support to ISIS in 2015. In fact, she planned to fly to Syria to hand-deliver this support. Who was her connection to ISIS she was so eager to meet up with? That would be the Syrian ISIS fighter she married over Skype.
Thomas was willing to leave her two daughters, a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old, with the intentions of fighting with her husband Abu Khalid al-Amriki in Syria. Luckily, that was the same day that the FBI raided her home and discovered evidence of her plan to leave. They initially became suspicious after she bought a visa to Turkey, which is known for being an “ISIS recruitment hub,” according to The Daily Mail. Ironically, her home was lined with American flags.
Among other evidence, the FBI found conversations between them planning what they would do in Turkey. “U probably want to do Istishadee [martyrdom operations] with me,” one of the messages she received from a new ISIS recruit read. Thomas responded, “that would be amazing …. a girl can only wish.” The unnamed person messaging her responded, “I can make that wish come true.”
In another discussion, she and her husband discussed how he would kill her if she was revealed to be a spy. Thomas told him she believed, “Cutting heads is more personal.”
“Lonely, Depressed, Anxiety-ridden”
In addition to this, Thomas tweeted about her intentions under the alias Fatayat Al Khilafah. One read, “I see why the mujahideen [violent jihadi fighters] Sacrifice Dunya [life on earth] for Akhirah [the afterlife] there’s no comparison,” according to The Daily Mail.
“Ms. Thomas was a lonely, depressed, anxiety-ridden mother who spent too much time on the internet,” her lawyers told the judge, as reported by Philly.com. “By attempting to relocate to ISIS-held territory and marry an ISIS fighter, she never gave ISIS anything of value – except her love.” Another tweet read, “Only thing I’m jealous of is when I see the smiles of shuhadaa [martyrs].”
According to The Daily Mail, her lawyers tried to push for a four-and-a-half-year sentence, claiming that she didn’t pose an actual threat of terrorism. “She carries significant guilt, finding it difficult to fathom how she could have ever considered abandoning her children,” and she wants to “rebuild her life with her children,” they claimed.
However, the prosecution, led by Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, said that Thomas’s repercussions should be more grave to deter other women from following in her footsteps.
“Others who might find themselves dissatisfied with life and excited by online extremists promising acceptance, a meaningful life, and piety must be shown that providing material support to terrorists translates to a very lengthy prison sentence regardless of the circumstances,” she wrote, according to The Daily Mail.
Check out The Daily Mail‘s coverage of this story here.
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