WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities arrested a Philadelphia woman on Friday and charged her with attempting to provide support to the Islamic State militant group by planning to travel overseas to join the organisation, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Thirty-year-old Keonna Thomas, also known as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLioness, was charged with trying to provide material support and resources, including herself as a fighter, to a foreign terrorist organisation, the department said.
Prosecutors allege that Thomas communicated with an Islamic State fighter in Syria, who asked her whether she wanted to take part in what was termed a martyrdom operation, to which she responded: “that would be amazing... a girl can only wish.”
The criminal complaint also alleges that Thomas did online research on indirect travel routes to Turkey and bought an electronic visa to the country. Turkey is a common transit point for people travelling from Europe to enter Syria and join Islamic State.
The woman then purchased a plane ticket for a flight overseas, according to the allegations.
Thomas does not yet have an attorney, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia said.
If convicted, Thomas faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.
Reporting by Alina Selyukh and David Ingram; Editing by Frances Kerry