DENVER (CBS4) – The parents of a teenager from Colorado who tried to join ISIS say the terrorists have won.
Shannon Conley’s parents spoke out for the first time after the girl dubbed Jihad Shannon was sentenced to four years in federal prison. In an open letter addressed to President Obama and the American people, Conley’s parents say their daughter is not a threat and her trust in others led her to make bad choices for which is paying a very high price.
Conley pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization.
“I’m disappointed in the sentence, but I’m not going to criticize his rationale or anything he said,” Conley’s lawyer Robert Pepin said.
Pepin argued she was misled while exploring her faith.
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At just 19 years old Conley had converted to Islam and planned to work as a cook or nurse’s aide at an ISIS camp after marrying a man in Syria she met online. She was arrested while attempting to board a plane at Denver International Airport with a ticket to Turkey.
Her arrest came after the FBI tried repeatedly tried to talk her out of her plans.
Former FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Davis worked in the FBI’s Denver office and says it’s important Conley’s sentence should send a message to others.
“This is criminal. She’s violating the law. If you violate the law we’re going to take that seriously — we being the U.S government,” Davis said. “You’re going to be prosecuted and … potentially lose your freedom as a result of this.”
The judge reinforced that idea in court.
In an open letter addressed to the president and American people, Conley’s parents responded, saying if that is the case, then they “feel the terrorists have won this particular battle;” and feel the government’s response “simply aids the terrorist in winning his war by doing for him what he can’t do for himself: terrify the American people.”
Conley cried while addressing the court, telling the judge she’s changed her opinion about ISIS. Her parents’ letter they say she now acknowledges her poor judgment and is struggling to discover how she will be able to put her life back together as a felon.