US & Canada

Shannon Conley pleads guilty to trying to help IS

Ana and John Conley, parents of defendant Shannon Conley Image copyright AP
Image caption Conley's father (right, with her mother Ana) refused to let her marry her Tunisian IS fighter suitor

A woman from Denver, Colorado has pleaded guilty to trying to help militant group Islamic State.

Shannon Conley, 19, was arrested in April while trying to board a flight to Turkey en route to Syria.

Before her arrest, the FBI had repeatedly tried to discourage Conley from involvement with IS militants.

Under a plea deal, prosecutors will ask for a reduced sentence if she gives information about other Americans looking to help IS in Iraq and Syria.

The teenager could face up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 (£154,000) fine, after pleading guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist group.

"The fact that she was arrested may very well have saved her life," Conley's public defender, Robert Pepin, said.

Marrying a jihadi

It is not known why Conley, who is a nurse's assistant, became interested in militant jihad when she converted to Islam.

She told her parents she planned to marry a suitor whom she met online and believed to be a Tunisian IS fighter.

The FBI became interested in Conley after she alarmed employees of a church in Denver by taking notes on the layout of the building.

Over the course of eight months, FBI agents repeatedly tried to discourage her from travelling abroad, suggesting she explore humanitarian work instead.

But her father, who had refused to let her marry her Tunisian suitor, discovered a one-way ticket to Turkey with Conley's name on it.

When she was arrested, authorities say they found CDs by US radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki among her belongings.

Authorities say they are still investigating Conley's suitor.

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