DENVER, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A 19-year-old Colorado woman who planned to marry an Islamic State militant she had never met in person and join the terrorist group in Turkey was sentenced to four years in federal prison.
Shannon Maureen Conley, who pleaded guilty in September to one count of of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, said she never intended to hurt anyone, but instead hoped to defend Muslims. Following the prosecutor's sentencing request, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore said he wanted to send a warning to others considering the same thing.
"This is not a serious offense but an extremely serious offense. I need to send a message," U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore said.
In April, Conley was arrested at Denver International Airport as she tried to board a plane for Turkey. She had planned to meet Yousr Mouelhi, a 32-year-old IS militant she had met online and who promised her marriage.
"It was after arrest that I learned the truth about the ISIS that I was taught to respect," she said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
Conley converted to Islam three years ago and became radicalized through social media and Internet contacts. Federal authorities repeatedly tried to dissuade her, but she said she wanted to use her nurse's training to help what she thought was a holy war in Syria.
Prosecutors said she was cooperative and recommended a sentence of a year and a day, which would have meant she would have been released in three months or so. Conley is one of about 150 Americans who have traveled or attempted to travel to join with foreign terrorist groups, a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times.