skip navigation

United States of America v. Shannon Conley

Court District Court for the District of Colorado, United States
Case number 14-cr-00163-RM
Decision title Plea Agreement
Decision date 9 September 2014
  • United States of America
  • Shannon Conley
Categories Terrorism
Keywords Terrorism, Foreign fighters, Islamic State, Attempted Travel, Training, Al Qaeda, material support
back to top


Ms. Shannon Conley has pleaded guilty before US courts to having tried to travel to Syria in order to join and provide support to Al Qaeda / ISIS. Ms. Conley met her fiancé, a jihadi fighter associated with these groups, online and they shared a belief in violent jihad. She subsequently planned to join him and the terrorist group, and arranged to receive some training in weapons and military tactics. However, Ms. Conley was arrested prior to her departure on a flight to Turkey in April 2014 and was sentenced in 2015 to 4 years’ imprisonment.   

back to top

Procedural history

Following her arrest on 8 April 2014, Ms. Conley was first charged on 9 April 2014. Ms. Conley pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation on 10 September 2014 and was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on 10 September 2014. 

back to top

Related developments

On 23 January 2015, Ms. Conley was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment and 3 further years of supervised release. 

back to top

Legally relevant facts

In 2014, Ms. Conley met online Mr. Yousr Mouelhi, a member of “an Al-Qaeda (AQ) affiliate … known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS)”. They shared the “view of Islam as requiring participation in violent jihad” (para. IV.B.3 of the plea agreement). Ms. Conley and Mr. Mouelhi subsequently became engaged and determined that Ms. Conley would travel to Syria to be with Mr. Mouelhi (para. IV.B.3 of the plea agreement). They also intended that she would support or assist the AQ and ISIS fighters, including by fighting if necessary (para. IV.B.4 of the plea agreement).

In September 2013, Ms. Conley joined the US Army Explorers, a not-for-profit group loosely affiliated with the US Army and US Boy Scouts, and attended their military tactics and firearms training in February 2014 (paras. IV.C.6-IV.C.7 of the plea agreement). During a search of her home, DVDs of Anwar Al-Awlaki lectures and information on AQ, its affiliates and on jihad were found (para. IV.D.12 of the plea agreement).

On 29 March 2014, Mr. Mouelhi and others arranged the purchase of a ticket for Ms. Conley to fly to Turkey on 8 April 2014 (para. IV.C.8). Ms. Conley went to Denver International Airport on 8 April 2014 and carried with her a list of contacts with phone numbers as well as her first aid/nursing certification, her US Army Explorers certification and her National Rifle Association certification (para. IV.D.11). She was arrested at the airport by FBI agents.

back to top

Specific legal rules and provisions

18 US Code § 371, referencing 18 US Code § 2339B

back to top

Court's holding and analysis

Ms. Conley pleaded guilty on 10 September 2014 to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation (p. 1 of the plea agreement).

As part of the plea agreement, Ms. Conley acknowledged that she had entered into a conspiracy to “provide and attempt to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organisation”, namely AQ and ISIS, with Mr. Mouelhi and others from around February 2014 until 8 April 2014 (para. IV.A.1). 

back to top

Instruments cited

United States Code

back to top

Additional materials

back to top

Social media links

Counter Extremism Project, ‘Shannon Maureen Conley’, Counter Extremism Project, 2016.