US Woman Converted to Islam, Tried to Join ISIS, Plotted to Attack Church over Pro-Israel Views

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


dtho13October007.JPG / Muslim Women Naqab

Niqab/for illustration purposes

When so-called Lone Wolf Muslim terrorists are busted by the feds, CAIR and other Muslim groups invariably claim entrapment, arguing that they would have done nothing if they hadn’t been led on by law enforcement.

With Shannon Maureen Conley, the Feds tried to do everything possible to dissuade her from becoming a Muslim terrorist.

And it didn’t work.

FBI agents tried more than once to discourage a 19-year-old suburban Denver woman who said she was intent on waging jihad in the Middle East before arresting her in April as she boarded a flight she hoped would ultimately get her to Syria.

Shannon Maureen Conley had told agents that she wanted to use her American military training from the U.S. Army Explorers to start a holy war overseas, even though she knew that it was illegal.

Court papers released Wednesday indicate that Ms Conley told the Joint Terrorism Task Force that she was a Muslim convert.

Conley was arrested April 8 at Denver International Airport, where she told agents she planned to live with a suitor she met online, apparently a Tunisian man who claimed to be fighting for an Al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

FBI agents became aware of Conley’s growing interest in extremism in November after she started talking about terrorism with employees of a suburban Denver church who found her wandering around and taking notes on the layout of the campus.

She spoke with agents several times after that, telling them of her desire for jihad, the records state. The agents tried openly to dissuade her, urging her instead to support Muslims through humanitarian efforts, which she told them was not an option.

Agents encouraged Conley’s parents to get her to meet with elders at her mosque to find more moderate options. Her parents were apparently unaware of her extremism, authorities said.

Shockingly, that didn’t work. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, Muslims gotta Jihad.

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Copley joined a religion that preaches the mass murder of non-Muslims as an article of faith. The rest was inevitable. The only way defend against it is to give parents the tools necessary to combat the conversion of their children to a religion of Jihad.

When John Conley found out that his daughter had a one-way ticket to Turkey for April 8, he contacted the feds.

‘It’s a difficult time for us,’ her mother, Ana Conley, told CNN on Wednesday.

Neighbors in Arvada told the station KDVR that Shannon has undergone a drastic transformation over the past six months.

‘I would see her in shorts and then all the sudden she started wearing those [Islamic] clothes maybe six months after they moved here,’ said Brenda Herrera.

On her Facebook page, Shannon changed her name to Halima, which is loosely translated as ‘mild-mannered’ and ‘generous,’ and called herself a ‘Slave of Allah,’

Agents should really have done something about Conley after the church incident because the details of it are extremely creepy.

Authorities began investigating Conley on Nov. 5, 2013, when the pastor at Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada called local police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to report a teen had been spotted suspiciously taking notes at the church’s main campus at 6120 Ward Road on several Sundays at October.

Church staff approached Conley and asked to see her notes, but she refused.

Conley then became confrontational with FBC staff, citing her own Islamic religious views, church officials told federal investigators.

“Conley made spontaneous statements to church staff to the effect of: ‘Why is the church worried about a terrorist attack?’ and, that terrorists are: ‘… not allowed to kill aging adults and little children,’” the complaint said.

On Nov. 7, 2013, an Arvada police detective and an FBI agent interviewed Conley, asking her why she has been visiting Faith Bible Chapel.

Conley said, “I hate those people.” She added that she initially started attending Sunday services and taking classes at FBC because she wanted to meet people of other faiths and learn about them.

But Conley said she did not share her Islamic religious views or wear her hijab, a head covering worn in public by Muslim woman.

Conley told the investigators she does not like Israel or FBC’s active and vocal support for Israel.

Conley said she noticed she was being followed by church staff on the campus and felt they treated her like a terrorist. Conley told the investigators that she reasoned that, “If they think I’m a terrorist, I’ll give them something to think I am,” according to the affidavit.

Conley said that Jihad to her is war against “kafir” (which the affidavit describes as a derogatory Arabic term for non-Muslims) to protect Muslim lands.

“She repeatedly referred to US military bases as ‘targets,’” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit.

Conley told the FBI she joined the U.S Army Explorers to be trained in U.S. military tactics and in firearms. She said she intended to use that training to go overseas to wage Jihad, according to the affidavit.

Conley said she previously wanted to serve in the U.S. military but no longer wanted to because she felt the military would not accept her due to her religious beliefs and her wearing of a hijab and niqab.

Conley earlier showed the agents a book called “Al-Qaida’s Doctrine for Insurgency: Abd Al-Aziz Al-Muqrin’s A Practical Course for Guerilla War.”

“The book had several passages underlined by Conley, including motorcade attacks and waging guerilla warfare. Conley stated that attacking a motorcade in the US was not viable because security in the US is too good. Conley thought she could plan such an attack, but not carry it out,” the affidavit said. “Conley liked the idea of guerilla warfare because she could do it alone.”

The agents warned the parents that “their daughter has expressed, to overt FBI agents, her intention to travel overseas and commit violent Jihad.” By “overt,” the agents meant they weren’t operating undercover and she clearly knew to whom she was talking.

In her luggage, agents found several CDs and DVDs labeled “Anwar al-Awlaki,” a senior Al Qaeda leader and recruiter who was killed by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Agents also found a folder with materials about providing first aid in the field. The teen was also carrying a list of contacts, including phone numbers for a person whose name was blacked out in the affidavit.

There really needs to be a more basic way of dealing with people like these before they actually take action. At no point in time before recent history, would terrorists have been allowed to plot to kill Americans and talk about it openly.

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  • Habbgun

    Isn’t it funny that if some high school or college kid is caught planning a massacre the press can’t wait to find out about their family, friends and Facebook pages.

    When the same type of person chooses Islamism they are pretty silent. I myself would like to know what makes her tick. What her parents believed. What their politics were. What kind of friends she had. My guess is the press doesn’t want us to know.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      The only story that even mentions she is a convert came from a UK tabloid

      says it all

      • American Patriot

        Is the tabloid Daily Mail?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          yup

        • Larry

          The British Daily Mail is the most widely read newspaper in the U.S.

          So why are the LA times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, NYT considered newspapers of records?
          Obviously the American public no longer trust their home grown newspapers.
          ,

          • Daniel Greenfield

            more like newspapers of the establishment

          • Larry

            I would like to see a news reported of Inside Edition or someone else ask major newspaper editors why their newspapers are failing when the Daily Mail is doing so well with an American readership.

            I would like them to ask them if they consider their newspaper, a newspaper of record.

            I would like them to ask them instead if the British Daily Mail should be considered the American newspaper of record.

          • Softly Bob

            The Daily Mail is heavily slandered in Britain. It is seen as newspaper of lies. To admit that you’re a Daily Mail reader brings mockery and cries of ‘sheep’ from the Left. People who read the Mail are seen as stuffy old Conservatives, out of touch with the real World, misinformed and conforming to misguided beliefs. The Mail is frequently lampooned by British TV satire.
            Yet the Mail is one of the few newspapers to tell the truth.
            It just goes to show how much Leftism has infiltrated the minds of British youth.

          • hiernonymous

            The National Enquirer outsells the Economist. Are you suggesting that this means that the former is taken more seriously as a news source? Or is it more likely that the purchasing public has other considerations when buying its periodicals?

      • Americana

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/02/shannon-maureen-conley-arrested-isis_n_5553622.html

        There are at least 10 American newspapers and television stations that have reported this story.

    • Pete

      Habbgun is correct!

      “Conley …added that she initially started attending Sunday services and taking classes at FBC because she wanted to meet people of other faiths and learn about them.”

      How could Shannon Conley not know the tenets of Christianity unless her parents were atheists or communists?

      I know people from deepest darkest Asia that grew up in the PRC and they knew the tenets of Christianity. Of course they would not be able to discuss the nuances between the RC and protestant churches or between the various protestant churches. The point is they know about Christianity. How can Shannon Conley not know? As Habbgun says why isn’t that a news story?

      Of Shannon Conley had gone to Sunday school and been confirmed or anything of the like, she would not be going to a church and asking them to explain. That is unless she really was clueless due to her upbringing or she wanted to start a fight.

      • rosewine

        She lied apparently when she said she wanted to learn… I know first hand how muslim men will try and ‘whoo’ any American girls/women any way they can. They tell them everything they ever wanted to hear such as you are beautiful, gorgeous ya da ya da… flattery flattery and the stupid girls fall for this… very very dangerous situation..

        • Pete

          In the group picture the young woman in the blouse would be considered “the catch”, while Shannon Conley might be considered mousy or undesirable.

          In reality there is a lot to work with, …. but it was all wasted.

          Psychologists have shown that how people act is in a significant part the result of feedback justified or not justified. They gave people new identities on a computer in an experiment and people who had been introverts opened up.

          Shaneen Conley had so much more potential than to be used by a jihadi, who would use her as part of a zex jihad, mule, suicide bomber or whatever.

    • rosewine

      CAN YOU PEOPLE NOT READ…. THIS STORY CLEARLY STATES SHE IS A CONVERT!! IT’S IN THE HEADLINE OF THE ARTICLE…. DUH!

    • hiernonymous

      “Isn’t it funny that if some high school or college kid is caught planning a massacre the press can’t wait to find out about their family, friends and Facebook pages.”

      In those stories, the youth in question has generally taken concrete steps to plan and prepare for a massacre. They’ve acquired weapons, laid out a timetable, etc. This story is still incomplete – there’s an assertion that she was plotting an attack on the church, but so far all we’re given is that she was lurking about taking notes, and made a sullen comment to someone who questioned her.

      The only arrest-worthy overt act that is described in the story is her attempt to board a flight en route to Syria. If her communications can establish that she did so with the intent of joining a terrorist organization, then that’s a legitimate arrest. But that doesn’t support the contention that she was plotting an attack on the church.

      Is the article incomplete, or is it overreaching? Did the notes she was taking turn out to be concrete plans for an attack, or was this a young person skulking around trying to be noticed?

      • Pete

        Sketching a plan view of a campus and making hostile comments is not a problem?

        • hiernonymous

          “Conspicuously taking notes and making hostile comments is not a problem?”

          If it is, this board will be cleared out in a jiffy. Should I be concerned about the posters who wished me dead over the last day or two?

          But to directly address your question, no, simply taking notes isn’t a problem. It’s as likely to be an adolescent trying to attract attention as anything else. It matters what the notes were. And that is one of the many gaps in this story.

          • Pete

            For argument’s sake lets assume the hostile comments.

            There is a difference between making hostile comments in a forum between anonymous posters and making hostile comments to someone IRL.

            There is opportunity to make those threats concrete IRL that is not possible in an electronic forum.

            Your own pseudonym is a word blending between some word and anonymous.

          • hiernonymous

            Nobody is truly anonymous on the internet. Every packet transmitted from your computer contains addressing information that tracks back to the point if origin. You might also ask the FPM staff about the lengths they will go to to discover a poster’s real identity, and how secure a poster on these forums really is in his anonymity.

            Be that as it may, there is a world of difference between “hostile comments” and a threat. Do we have evidence if the latter?

            My nick’s other half is from Hieronymous Bosch.

          • Pete

            I have seen the work before as have many others probably in association with paintings of the Black death or something.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieronymus_Bosch

            “Although the Brethren remained loyal to the Pope, they still saw it as their duty to denounce the abuses and scandalous behaviour of many priests: the corruption which both Erasmus and Bosch satirised in their work”

            A question is whether you go to church. I am not sure but I kind of doubt it. Some might have a problem with that, but they don’t get the whole picture. You probably could have books of philosophy, religion (Christian, Islamic and others) that you read.

          • hiernonymous

            I’m surprised you took the time to dig into the implications of the name. Cool.

          • Pete

            I am disappointed that my Latin is so poor. I never knew the derivation of the name Hieronymus/Jheronimus. I never took Latin in HS, but I seriously considered it.

            Anyone, who is Protestant and takes it seriously, should take church movements that are critical of the church such as the Albisengians, The Brethren and others seriously. So yes, I find Hieronymus Bosch autobiography interesting.

          • Pete

            Yes it does matter what the notes were.

            Then again it might not. Writing notes even if they are gibberish are a way of communicating a threat IMO.

            You could do the same with a camera by taking pictures.

          • hiernonymous

            The question, of course, is not what she might have done, but what evidence is already in the possession of the author to support the accusations already made. The headline did not say that there is reasonable grounds for being concerned that she might have had hostile intentions toward the church. It says, positively, that she plotted to attack the church and recounted her motive.

          • Pete

            “If it is, this board will be cleared out in a jiffy. Should I be concerned about the posters who wished me dead over the last day or two?”

            “Isn’t it funny that if some high school or college kid is caught planning a massacre the press can’t wait to find out about their family, friends and Facebook pages.”

            I think it is a fair point that habbgun made. I believe news organizations try to shape public opinion about issues, by what stories they cover cover, how much they cover them and how they cover them.

            I have heard several theories about the Columbine perps from a police man molested one of them, to anti-depressants to they were just anti-social. It will be interesting to see if the press tries to get as much detail about what made Shannon Conley tick (My theory is that she was low in the pecking order. society kind of makes its’ own problems that way.). Personally, I don’t believe that the press will dig as much. That seems to be what you want to dispute when you copied and highlighted that part of Habbgun’s post. You wanted to pick a fight. You’re pugnacious.

          • hiernonymous

            Habbgun’s most recent “point” was to assert a similarity between a poster with a consistently rational and civil tone, and the perp in the case if the day.

            Regarding the older point, the ores takes an intense interest in intense crimes. The Columbine perps actually, you know, killed people. In cases of planned attacks, there is generally concrete evidence if those plans: weapons and explosives collected, written planning, etc. if any of that exists in this case, the article fails utterly to present it.

            There is no evidence that the case did not receive appropriate attention. You may or may not have seen my response to Daniel’s assertion that the fact of her Muslim conversion was being avoided in the press by linking to no fewer than ten major papers that ran stories on the case, 9 of which specifically addressed her religion and one if which linked to that information. With every major news outlet running the story, as well as print markets from San Jose to Miami to London, it’s hard to understand any accusation that the mainstream media is somehow trying to minimize the story.

      • Pete

        Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went target shooting in the woods in preparation for Columbine

        Shaneen Conley went target shooting with the U.S. Army and merely told FBI agents she intended to use her skills in Syria.

        I see now. This is a very important distinction.

        • Habbgun

          Shannon Conley is how I picture Americana to be. I’m sure it’ll be hard to tell their writing apart. Now we have collaborator collaborators. Wonder how deep it gets.

          • hiernonymous

            “Shannon Conley is how I picture Americana to be. ”

            How are your fantasies relevant?

            “I’m sure it’ll be hard to tell their writing apart.”

            That’s probably true – that you are sure. One of the big problems with the world is the number of people who are sure about things that they actually know little to nothing about.

            “Wonder how deep it gets.”

            Judging by your current post, pretty darn.

        • hiernonymous

          Harris and Klebold actually obtained weapons, made plans, and executed them.

          I’ve asked the question – is there any evidence that Conley had obtained weapons and made a plan?

          If not, then, yes, that is a very important distinction.

          • Pete

            Conley had a plan.

            1a. Get trained by the U.S. Army
            1b. Uses her nurses aid training
            2. Fly to Syria
            3. Assist the jihadis.

            Over time she spelled out a course of action. She executed it. She obtained skills and she voted with her feet.

            That said I think there are identifiable psycho-social issues at work. Between those issues and the economy I think we would if not had a happy stable person we still would not have had one ready to look for something else such as jihad.

          • hiernonymous

            Right you are. Conspicuously absent from that plan is anything about an attack on the church. Are you starting to see the point I’m raising here about accuracy and honesty in reporting? The plan you cited is bad enough, but wouldn’t push the buttons of American readers the way the bogus headline does.

      • Americana

        I think it’s far more likely — although this is entirely speculation on my part — that she might have wanted to arrive in Turkey to meet her Arab on-line lover w/some minor terrorist action against the Faith Bible Chapel church under her belt as proof of her suitability for jihad and to impress her would-be lover, but who knows?

        How do we deal w/such a woman? She’s obviously not quite all there if she’s got this much confessional ‘outreach’ going on — to the Faith Bible Chapel folks to the FBI… I’d say it’s likely she’s got quite a few issues and is not the same type of convert as the British woman (Hepplewaite). This is shown by her pride in displaying her newfound Muslim character of ‘Halima’ and strutting her superiority to the Faith Bible Chapel folks. The two — Connelly and Hepplewaite — may eventually be willing to do very similar things for their Muslim faith but they arrived from very different points even if their entry points both involved Muslim men. This is another aspect of our legal system viz jihad I don’t feel is quite accounted for in terms of the scale of the crime and the punishment. It’s going to be interesting to watch how the evaluation of her psychology is revealed in the newspapers.

        • Pete

          What is a minor terrorist action in your opinion?

      • Daniel Greenfield

        “there’s an assertion that she was plotting an attack on the church, but
        so far all we’re given is that she was lurking about taking notes, and
        made a sullen comment to someone who questioned her.”

        That someone would be an FBI agent. Repeatedly announcing your plans to be a terrorist to a government agent and then beginning to carry them out by flying to meet a terror group will get you arrested.

        • hiernonymous

          Yes, and I noted that the travel to meet the terror group was likely ample grounds for arrest. You didn’t read closely enough. What I haven’t yet seen demonstrated is an actual plan to attack the church.

          • Pete

            What does it take to case a place?

            You look for armed guards.
            You look for exits.
            You look for cameras and alarm systems.
            You look at the lay of the land.
            You figure how faraway the police station is or where their patrol routes are.
            You figure how much activity is at the location.

            Or she just might have used the SALUTE system.

            None of this really needs to be written down depending on how good a person’s memory or if they do this as a lone wolf.

            If it was part of a group she would have to take more notes so that everyone would be on the same page.

            If Ms Conley used some sort of shorthand, it might look like gibberish but it would not be.

            Most people do not run around with notepads.Those in the military do, but they ain’t like most people.

          • hiernonymous

            The question isn’t what you think she might have been doing, but what the headline and article assert that she us known to gave done. So far, we’ve been shown no evidence that she plotted an attack on the church.

  • Mark

    Why do niqabs, hijabs and all the other gear remind me of an “encounter suit” a la Babylon5?

    • liz

      Or a black version of Casper the ghost.

  • Pete

    In 2008 Britney Spears had one of her episodes. When she was next seen in public, she was wearing sunglasses. A psychologist explained that it gave a person a feeling of distance or private space.

    I look at the picture of Conley with her bangs and baseball cap and I think she is trying to create this type of private space. The photo of her with the 4 other women does not show her as close with the other as the other women are with each other. She is the 5th wheel.

    She chose Islam because she was not very well integrated/liked within her community.

    • Softly Bob

      Lewthwaite was the same. Raised as a Catholic, she felt disenfranchised from her religious community, lonely as a child, caught up in her parent’s unhappy marriage. She met a Muslim, married him and the rest is history.

  • De Doc

    She looks like a nerdy kid with Asperger’s, which would explain the sudden obsession with all things Islamic. I’m guessing her Jihadi-in-Waiting in Syria used his internet charm to sweep her off her klutzy feet and draw her into the wonderful world of violent Islamdom.

    • Pete

      She is 19. There is no mention of a transition from high school to college or from high school to work. The 4th estate is telling only as much as they want us to know.

      There might not be anything there, but she may have had problems before this. the problems were not so great that she could not graduate form high school. But her problem seem to be great enough and growing that after “coasting ” to graduation, she could not take the next steps.

      Some easy question her parent could answer is why did they move to a new neighborhood? Was it due to job change, better neighborhood or is there another reason? What were Shannon Conley’s plans post high school? Did she go to prom? How many friends did she have? How strong were those friendships or was she loosely connected to a group and those connection were growing weaker with time?

      When you want to solve a problem one method is to aks
      WHY 5 TIMES!

      If you ask why once and collect some sh1tty stats, you can shape a story anyway you want for any old agenda desired by the 4th estate.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5_Whys

    • Pete

      Looks like Ms. Conley would have lasted longer than the Irish woman, whose Muslim/Palestinian husband tried to blow up her, their kids and hundreds of innocent passengers.

      What is worse having a purported loving husband using you for a cause or being part of a rape jihad?

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    It seems like a simple case. Girl reads about Islam. Girl believes Islam. Girl likes Islam. Girl starts to act Islamic.

    The only think she missed in her brief studies was the chapter on taqiyya.

  • CaoMoo

    Islam the gift that keeps giving

  • honeybee

    She seems to be more mentally disturbed the converted to Islam

    • BS77

      Years ago, she would have been right at home with that Jim Jones Peoples Temple insanity ….she would have been one of those Heaven’s Gate cult robots. Perhaps she is mentally ill…poor girl.

  • Campus Maximus

    well they say that long distance relationships rarely ever work out. lulululz

    ^^;

  • Hard Little Machine

    Why stop her at all? Let her go over there to kill, be killed, raped and killed, raped, killed and eaten, whatever.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      she might have come back to America with a target list

  • muslim

    Islam not about violence, don’t be blind and ignore about. Hope she be guided go real islam that’s about submit to all high, who created us.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Why did Mohammed kill so many people then?

      • hiernonymous

        Why did so many people try to kill Muhammad?

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Poor Mo. He was just fighting back when he had a female poet murdered for mocking him.

          • hiernonymous

            So the Quraishi attempts to kill him were all in his head? What an imagination.

    • iluvisrael

      hey achhmmed, your taqiya is showing!

  • HelloKitty

    muslim convert for jihad = mental issue, or issue of repressed rage etc.
    In US, conversion to islam happens most in prisons, where the folks have an axe to grind against society. But Conley did not appear to go to prison. Someone should examine her for psychological issues.