Prosecutors Reveal Link Between Virginia Terror Defendant And ‘Empress’ Of The Islamic State Of Kansas

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Northern Virginia man arrested on terrorism charges is in a husband-and-wife relationship with another American who was dubbed an “ISIS empress” by authorities for her work establishing an all-female Islamic State battalion, prosecutors said. on Wednesday.

Mohammed Chhipa, 33, of Springfield, Virginia, was arrested last week on charges of supporting a terrorist group. Prosecutors allege he transferred nearly $200,000 worth of cryptocurrency, some of that money traced back to Islamic State, to support Chhipa’s stated goal of helping smuggle female ISIS members out of detention camps. Other funds remain unaccounted for.

At a detention hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors also revealed a relationship between Chhipa and Allison Fluke-Ekren, an American from Kansas who is serving a 20-year prison sentence. Fluke-Ekren pleaded guilty last year to organizing and running the Khatiba Nusaybah, a battalion in which approximately 100 women and girls, some as young as 10, learned to use automatic weapons and detonate grenades and suicide belts.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Aminoff told the judge that Chhipa considers himself married to Fluke-Ekren, even though the marriage apparently took place online and has no legal status in the U.S. He said Chhipa, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from the India, has been trying to adopt Fluke-Ekren’s children.

Court documents in the Fuke-Ekren case do not mention Chhipa by name, but also indicate that Fluke-Ekren considered herself married to a man she met online. It is not clear that the two met in person.

Whatever the relationship between Chhipa and Fluke-Ekren, the charges against Chhipa appear to be unrelated to that relationship. Prosecutors say that between November 2019 and July 2022, Chhipa used virtual currency to transfer more than $188,000 to known and unknown accounts. An FBI affidavit states that some of the money remains unaccounted for, but that $18,000 went to wallets known to be used by ISIS women located in Syria, while $61,000 went to cryptocurrency wallets in Turkey. The affidavit states that money intended to reach Syria is often sent via Turkey.

The affidavit cites text messages sent by Chhipa indicating that he wanted the money used to bribe guards at detention camps where families of Islamic State fighters are still being held.

The affidavit says Chhipa also met with an FBI “controlled person,” either an undercover agent or a confidential source, and accepted cash from the individual. Chhippa then transferred the money to Bitcoin and sent it directly to a known ISIS member, according to the affidavit.

Chhipa has been under investigation for years. In fact, prosecutors say he fled to Egypt in August 2019 out of fear of arrest after his home was raided. He was taken back to the United States after authorities contacted Interpol, but he was not charged until Monday. Prosecutors say Chhiipa continued to engage in illegal conduct after returning to the US, even though he knew he was coming under scrutiny by authorities.

Family members who attended Wednesday’s hearing did not comment but provided a written statement supporting him. The statement described Chhipa as “tirelessly working for the betterment of women and children” and it said that she “has been the subject of false accusations.

Federal Judge John Anderson ruled at the end of Wednesday’s hearing that Chhipa must remain in prison while awaiting trial.

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