Topeka student-turned-ISIS leader Allison Fluke-Ekren pleads guilty to federal terrorism charge

Allison Fluke-Ekren
Allison Fluke-Ekren

Hours after former Topekan Allison Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty to a federal terrorism charge, a former teacher of hers said Tuesday he is still puzzled as to how she ended up leading an all-female group of ISIS fighters.

"I'd just like to know what happened," said Larry Miller. "I don't suppose I ever will."

Fluke-Ekren, 42, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema set sentencing for Oct. 25, when she faces 20 years in prison.

Miller taught from 1991 to 2001 at Topeka Collegiate School, where Fluke-Ekren took classes from him in seventh and eighth grades, between 1992 and 1994.

She then attended Topeka High School until 1997, according to THS yearbooks.

Fluke-Ekren went by her maiden name of Allison Brooks in those days. She went on to become a schoolteacher.

More: Allison Fluke-Ekren is one of several ex-Topekans accused of terrorism

Topeka teacher last heard from Allison Fluke-Ekren in 2008

Miller, who is retired and lives south of Topeka at Wakarusa, kept in touch with Fluke-Ekren and was still one of her 51 Facebook friends when she was arrested in January.

Miller said in January that he and his wife, Suzanne Miller — a librarian who died at age 74 in March 2020 — were friends with Fluke-Ekren's parents, though he wasn't willing to share their identities.

Miller said last January he wasn't questioning prosecutors' assertion that Fluke-Ekren was the leader of a female group of ISIS fighters.

"I would just like for people to know that that's not the person I knew when I knew her," he said.

He said Fluke-Ekren ended the last email she wrote to him, in February 2008, by saying, “My biggest hope is that I can pass on to my students the torch of curiosity and excitement that you gave to me.”

Fluke-Ekren moved to Egypt in 2008 with her second husband, a now-deceased former member of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia, according to prosecutors.

She moved in 2011 to Libya, where she had lived with her second husband, who claimed to have removed at least one box of documents and an electronic device from the U.S. Special Mission and CIA Annex in Benghazi, when it was attacked Sept. 11, 2012, according to prosecutors.

Fluke-Ekren and her second husband moved in 2012 to Syria, where he became a leader of Islamic State snipers, according to prosecutors. In mid-2014, Fluke-Ekren told a government witness about plans to bomb a U.S. shopping mall or college, according to prosecutors.

More: Ex-Topeka Collegiate teacher remembers Allison Fluke-Ekren

International terrorism charges are rare against women

In mid-2016, Fluke-Ekren led and organized an effort to establish a Women’s Center in Raqqa, Syria. The center provided medical services, educational services about the Islamic State, childcare, and various training to women and young girls.

As the center’s leader, Fluke-Ekren also provided and assisted other female ISIS members in providing training to numerous women and young girls on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and explosive suicide belts, according to prosecutors.

In late 2016, the ISIS “Wali” of Raqqa approved the creation of the “Khatiba Nusaybah” — a military battalion to be comprised solely of female ISIS members.

Witnesses said the battalion also provided certain members with instruction on physical training ­including martial arts, medical training and religious classes, and how to pack and prep a travel bag with rifles and other military supplies, according to prosecutors.

More: US woman pleads guilty to training women for Islamic State terrorist group in Syria

International terrorism charges against women are extremely rare, according to experts, because men tend to dominate the misogynistic groups such as al-Qaida, the lslamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, and related groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.

But a dozen cases over the past decade of U.S. citizens or permanent residents revealed women shedding traditional caretaker roles to recruit fellow warriors, train others to use rifles and explosives, and even kill.

Teacher hadn't heard from Fluke-Ekren since arrest

Miller said Tuesday he hadn't heard from Fluke-Ekren since her arrest was announced in January.

He said he did get a phone call from an attorney representing her.

That attorney asked only that Miller confirm the accuracy of an article about an interview with him that was published early this year by The Capital-Journal, he said.

Miller said he confirmed the accuracy of that article.

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at or 785-213-5934. Bart Jansen of USA Today contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Former Kansan Allison Fluke-Ekren pleads guilty to terrorism charge