DENVER — A 19-year-old suburban Denver woman who tried to go to Syria to help Islamic State militants has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Shannon Conley learned her punishment in Denver federal court on Friday as her parents watched.
She wore a black and tan headscarf with her jail uniform.
Conley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization in September under a deal that requires her to divulge information she may have about other Americans with similar intentions.
FBI agents say Conley wanted to marry a suitor she met online who told her he was fighting with the extremists. She repeatedly told them she wanted to fight alongside him or use her skills as a nurse’s aide to help.
Conley could have faced up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to trying to help Islamic State militants, but her sentence depended at least in part on how helpful she was to authorities still investigating her case and others like it.
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Authorities became aware of Conley’s growing interest in extremism in November 2013 after she started talking about terrorism with employees of a suburban Denver church. They had seen her wandering around and taking notes on the layout of the campus, according to court documents.
FBI agents met repeatedly with Conley starting in late 2013 hoping to dissuade her from leaving, suggesting she pursue humanitarian work instead. But she told them she was intent on waging jihad in the Middle East, even though she knew it was illegal, according to court documents. She believed it was her only answer to correcting what she saw as wrongs perpetrated against the Muslim world.
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