A 30-year-old Philadelphia woman who goes by the moniker “YoungLioness,” among other aliases, has been charged by federal prosecutors with trying to travel overseas to fight with the Islamic State group, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Friday. Keonna Thomas, also known as Fatyat Al Khilafah, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Thomas allegedly indicated on her Twitter account that she wanted to travel to Syria, where the Islamic State group has its stronghold, and deleted her handle because she was concerned about tipping off authorities. “If we truly knew the realities . . . we all would be rushing to join our brothers in the front lines pray ALLAH accept us as shuhada [martyrs],” she wrote, according to U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger.
The 30-year-old Philadelphia woman was accused of linking up with ISIS fighters online who asked her if she wanted to join them. She allegedly responded, “That would be amazing … a girl can only wish,” prosecutors said.
Thomas was trying to figure out “indirect travel routes to Turkey,” where would-be jihadists go before ISIS smuggles them into Syria for training and battle, the U.S. attorney’s office said. She allegedly purchased airline tickets on March 26 for a March 29 flight to Spain, prosecutors claimed.
The woman also applied for a U.S. passport and purchased an electronic visa to Turkey, the U.S. attorney’s office alleged. Turkey is the “most common and most direct transit point for individuals traveling from locations in Europe who are seeking to enter Syria and join ISIL,” prosecutors said, using an alternative name for ISIS.
Thomas allegedly “knowingly attempted to travel overseas in order to join, fight with, and martyr herself on behalf of ISIL,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.