By Brett Gillin
A woman will be spending the next four years of her life behind bars after sentencing late last week in Colorado. The 19-year-old admitted guilt in wanting to become the bride of an ISIS soldier and also admitted that she planned to take part in the ISIS jihad in the Middle East. Thanks to a plea deal and her cooperation with investigators, the young woman will spend a short amount of time in jail, at least compared to many sentences for aiding, abetting, and participating in terrorist groups and activities.
Shannon Maureen Conley is, according to this article in CNN, one of the first Americans to ever be sentenced for conspiracy to join and support ISIS. While her four year prison sentence may seem light, it is actually the sentence that prosecutors were recommending, and the judge agreed to it late last week.
According to reports, Shannon Maureen Conley began researching Islam years ago by going online. In the course of her research, she stumbled into a radical Islam sect and began corresponding with members of ISIS in Syria. Eventually, she agreed to become the bride of an ISIS soldier, and volunteered to use her nursing training in order to help the ISIS movement.
Conley’s defense attorneys, and now Conley herself, claim that the impressionable 19-year-old agreed to support ISIS and marry the soldier before she found out about the terror that ISIS was responsible for. In a statement that Conley read before her sentencing, she stated “it was after arrest that I learned the truth about the ISIS that I was taught to respect.”
Conley claims that since her arrest, she has finally had time to read the entirety of the Quran, and has now concluded that the “scholars” that she was listening to online had misinterpreted and misrepresented the holy book. “Even though I was committed to the idea of jihad,” Conley told the court, “I didn’t want to hurt anyone. It was all about defending Muslims.”
Now, for the next four years, Conley will have ample opportunity to continue to study her newly found religion, and she claims that she will use that time to help people, rather than hurt them. “I am deeply humbled by this opportunity to grow,” she told the court. “I do not believe I am a threat to society and I ask you to allow me to prove it.”
The judge in the case believes that along with her sentence, Conley is in need of psychiatric care as well. “I’m not saying that her decisions were all a product of mental illness… but she’s a bit of a mess,” the judge told the court. “She has no history in the criminal justice system. She is very young… Teenagers make dumb decisions a lot.”