U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
(215) 861-8200
April 3, 2015

Philadelphia Woman Arrested on Suspicions of Trying to Join ISIL

PHILADELPHIA—Keonna Thomas, a/k/a “Fatayat Al Khilafah,” a/k/a “YoungLioness,” 30, of Philadelphia, was charged today by Criminal Complaint with knowingly attempting to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. According to the complaint, Thomas knowingly attempted to travel overseas in order to join, fight with, and martyr herself on behalf of ISIL.

The Complaint alleges that Thomas posted on Twitter the following statement: “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].” The Complaint further alleges that Thomas applied for a U.S. Passport, and advised an associate that she had deactivated her Twitter “till i leave for sham [greater Syria]....don’t want to draw attention of the kuffar [non-believers]." Thomas then allegedly engaged in electronic communications with an ISIL fighter in Syria, who asked Thomas if she wanted to be a part of a martyrdom operation. Thomas responded by stating, “that would be amazing….a girl can only wish.” Thomas also allegedly conducted online research into various indirect travel routes to Turkey, and allegedly purchased an electronic visa to Turkey. The Complaint alleges that Turkey is known to be the most common and most direct transit point for individuals traveling from locations in Europe who are seeking to enter Syria and join ISIL. And on or about March 26, 2015, Thomas allegedly purchased airline tickets to fly to Spain three days later, on March 29, 2015.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

A Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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