An American woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to leading an all-female military battalion in Syria on behalf of the designated foreign terrorist organization -- the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Al Jazeera reported that Allison Fluke-Ekren entered her plea at a federal courtroom in Northern Virginia. The U.S. Department of Justice said that she faces up to 20 years in prison, and she will be sentenced on Oct. 25.

In the statement, it added that more than 100 women and girls, including girls as young as 10 or 11, "received military training from Fluke-Ekren in Syria on behalf of ISIS." She was captured in Syria, and was brought to America in January to face charges. The Justice Department said that she tried to motivate her trainees by explaining "how female fighters can ensure the Islamic State is kept alive by ‘helping ISIS expand and to remain’ through the use of weapons." They included automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades as well as "suicide belts packed with explosives."

A 2019 criminal complaint, which was unsealed earlier this year, cited the testimonies of several witnesses. They told U.S. officials that Fluke-Ekren discussed waging attacks in the U.S. The DOJ said that according to a witness, in or about late 2016, "the ‘Wali’ (or ISIS-appointed mayor) of Raqqa, Syria, allegedly permitted the opening of the ‘Khatiba Nusaybah,’ which was a military battalion comprised solely of female ISIS members who were married to male ISIS fighters." The statement further read that shortly after that, "Fluke-Ekren allegedly became the leader and organizer of the battalion.”

The all-women brigade was reportedly active during the 2017 siege of Raqqa. The battalion offered medical and physical training as well as weapon preparation courses, some of which were taught by Fluke-Ekren, said American authorities.

Her family is from the U.S. Midwest, and she worked as a teacher in the U.S. before leaving the country and joining the terrorist organization.

According to USA Today, international terrorism charges against women are extremely rare, said experts. They are uncommon because men tend to dominate the misogynistic groups such as al-Qaida, ISIS and related groups in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Representational image. Pixabay.

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