US woman convicted of providing material support to Islamic State

Alison Marie Sheppard, 35, of Florida purchased 10 mobile phones and arranged to ship them to undercover officers posing as IS supporters.

al-monitor A member loyal to the Islamic State waves an IS flag in Raqqa, Syria, June 29, 2014.  Photo by REUTERS/Stringer.

Jun 1, 2020

A US citizen was sentenced to more than five years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State (IS). Alison Marie Sheppard of Florida purchased 10 mobile phones and arranged to ship them to undercover officers posing as IS supporters, according to a press release by the US Justice Department. Sheppard believed the phones would be sent to the Middle East for IS operatives to use as bomb detonators.

She also provided IS instructional material on how to travel to Syria to a person she believed was a sympathizer with the extremist group. That person was later caught by the FBI and provided information to investigators. Sheppard also told an undercover law enforcement officer that she had pledged loyalty to IS’ supposed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died in a US Special Operations raid in northwest Syria late last year. Sheppard, who went by the name Aiisha Abdullah, pled guilty on May 17.

The FBI has investigated IS affiliation in all 50 US states, where more than 200 people have been charged with crimes related to the group. A majority of those convicted in the United States were arrested following investigations involving at least one undercover agent or informant, according to George Washington University’s Project on Extremism. More than 70 of those sentenced had been accused of traveling or attempting to travel abroad on behalf of the group; a third were accused of involvement in planning attacks in the United States.

IS was territorially defeated in March 2019 by Syrian Kurdish-led forces backed by the US-led military coalition; some 12,000 captured fighters remain in prisons across northeast Syria.

Some 68,000 suspected wives and children of IS fighters remain in al-Hol camp, which is run by Kurdish-led security forces. A number of Western countries have refused to take citizens that have wound up in the prison camps.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings