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The Case Of The Colorado Teen Who Tried To Wage Jihad In Syria

Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, fell in love with an ISIS militant and was on her way to Syria to join the terrorist group when she was busted by the FBI, officials say.

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This is 19-year-old Shannon Maureen Conley, the Denver teen accused of aiding the foreign terrorist organization, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

In April, Conley was arrested at Denver International Airport, bound for the Syria–Turkey border. Newly unsealed court documents reveal that Conley intended to join a man she described as her "suitor" and an ISIS militant.


Prior to her arrest, Conley, a registered nurse, had been under investigation by the FBI for almost a year.

According to court documents, Conley, who converted to Islam, voluntarily met on numerous occasions with FBI agents and detailed her desire to carry out Jihad in a foreign country to defend her faith.

The FBI began looking into Conley in late 2013 when she was reported for "suspicious activity" outside a Christian church near her home in Denver.

According to court documents, on Nov. 5, 2013, the pastor of the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo., reported seeing Conley near the church with a notebook diagramming the campus.

When confronted by police, Conley reportedly asked, "Why is this church afraid of a terrorist attack?"

Following her confrontation with the Faith Bible Chapel, Conley began meeting regularly with the FBI and discussed her desire to wage jihad.

In a December 2013 interview with the FBI, Conley told investigators she intended to join the U.S. Army Explorers program so that she could get the military training necessary to go overseas and wage jihad, according to court documents.

She also allegedly told the FBI that she hoped to train Islamist jihadi fighters in U.S. military tactics. Conley said she previously wanted to join the U.S. Army but thought the military would not accept her due to her religious beliefs and her wearing of a hijab and niqab, officials said.


In February 2014, Conley told investigators that she underwent the military training with the U.S. Army Explorers which she enjoyed.

19-year-old suspected of aiding ISIS joined US Army Explorers "to be trained in US military tactics" @AmandaKost

7NEWS Denver Channel@DenverChannel

19-year-old suspected of aiding ISIS joined US Army Explorers "to be trained in US military tactics" @AmandaKost

1:45 PM - 03 Jul 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

At an April 4, 2014, meeting, Conley told the FBI that she intended to travel to the Syria border to meet an 32-year-old Tunisian ISIS fighter who was her "suitor."

When she arrived at the border, Conley allegedly said she planned to serve as an nurse at an ISIS camp. (She quoted her suitor saying, "We need more nurses over here.") She told investigators that she had purchased the ticket and if she was barred from leaving the country she would find another way.


Throughout the investigation, the FBI said it was in contact with Conley's parents who she lived with, John and Ana.

John Conley told investigators that his daughter had asked for his blessing to marry her ISIS suitor and move to Syria to join him in jihad. John Conley said he refused the request, but on April 1, he called the FBI after he found a one-way ticket for his daughter to travel from Denver to Adana, Turkey, on April 8 on his desk.

On April 8, Conley was arrested on probable cause charges as she tried to board her fight at Denver International Airport.

After her arrest, Conley told the FBI that she planned to fly to Turkey and wait there until associates of her suitor contacted her, according to the court documents. During a search of Conley's house following her arrest, the FBI said it found materials about jihad and al-Qaeda. Agents said they also recovered a number of CD and DVDs labeled "Anwar al-Awlaki," an American-born Muslim who was killed by U.S. forces in a targeted drone strike in 2011.

Three months after her arrest at Denver International Airport, Conley is being held without bond in Denver County Jail, facing one federal count of trying to provide support to an international terrorist organization. She faces up 15 years in jail.

Read the complaint:

Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Mike Hayes at

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