US woman accused of trying to join, martyr self for IS group
Philadelphia, Apr 4: A woman has been arrested on charges she tried to join and martyr herself for the Islamic State group, a day after two women in New York were charged with plotting to wage jihad by building a bomb and using it for a Boston Marathon-type attack.
Keonna Thomas, 30, was preparing to fly to Spain with hopes of reaching Syria to fight with the terror group, authorities said.
Instead, she was arrested yesterday at her family's town house in a public housing development, which has three small US flags adorning the porch.
Authorities said she communicated with an Islamic State group fighter in Syria who asked if she wanted to be part of a martyrdom operation.
She told the fighter that the opportunity "would be amazing, ... a girl can only wish," according to the documents.
A federal magistrate ordered Thomas held pending a detention hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors will oppose bail. Last month, Thomas bought a ticket to fly to Barcelona on March 29.
She likely planned to take a bus to Istanbul and then reach Syria, according to an FBI affidavit filed in the case. Authorities put a stop to the trip when they raided her house March 27.
In court, Thomas wore a burqa as she acknowledged she understood the charge against her attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation.
She was appointed a public defender, who did not comment on the charge. Thomas appeared to show little emotion as she was led out of the house yesterday morning in handcuffs, neighbour Ronni Patterson said.
Patterson said she had seen investigators searching the home, where Thomas appeared to live with her mother and grandmother, a week ago.
The women in the New York case are accused of plotting to wage violent jihad by building a bomb and using it for an attack like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
They were ordered held without bail after a brief court appearance Thursday. The lawyer for one of them said his client will plead not guilty.
Thomas is charged with attempting to provide material aid to terrorists, one of the same charges filed in 2010 against another Pennsylvania woman, Colleen LaRose, known as Jihad Jane, and two co-defendants in a terror plot that prosecutors say also involved online messages and recruitment for overseas terror suspects.