Philadelphia woman charged with attempting to support Islamic State

Prosecutors charge Keonna Thomas with attempting to travel overseas to join and fight with Islamic State

A Philadelphia woman was charged Friday with planning to support Islamic State and “martyr herself” for the militant organization, federal prosecutors said.

Keonna Thomas, also known as Fatayat Al Khilafah and YoungLioness, appeared in court Friday afternoon, just hours after her arrest.

She was charged with knowingly attempting to “provide material support and resources, including herself as personnel,” according to the criminal complaint. Thomas, 30, also is accused of attempting to travel overseas in order to join and fight with Islamic State.

Thomas' arrest comes one day after federal prosecutors in New York announced the indictment of two women from Queens, N.Y., on charges of plotting to build a bomb for use against U.S. targets. Also Thursday, in a separate case, a Texas-born man was charged with conspiring to aid militant groups fighting American forces in Afghanistan.

The two women, Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, and the man, Muhanad Mahmoud al Farekh, were being held without bail.

In Thomas' case, court documents say she posted regularly on Twitter.

“If we truly knew the realities ... we all would be rushing to join our brothers in the front lines pray ALLAH accept us as shuhada [martyrs],” read one of the posts, according to court papers.

The online posts date back to August 2013, authorities said, when Thomas reposted a picture of a child in camouflage with the caption: “Ask yourselves, while this young man is holding magazines for the Islamic state, what are you doing for it? #ISIS.”

The complaint further alleges that Thomas applied for a U.S. passport and advised an associate that she had deactivated her Twitter account “till i leave for sham [greater Syria] ... don't want to draw attention of the kuffar [nonbelievers].” She allegedly then contacted an Islamic State fighter in Syria, who asked her if she wanted to be a part of a “martyrdom operation.”

Thomas responded by stating, “that would be amazing ... a girl can only wish,” the complaint says. She also allegedly researched various indirect travel routes to Turkey, purchased an electronic visa to that country and purchased airline tickets to fly overseas on March 29.

Turkey is considered the most common and most direct transit point for those traveling from Europe and seeking to enter Syria to join Islamic State.

If convicted, Thomas faces up to 15 years in prison.

sarah.parvini@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:31 p.m.: This report has been revised throughout. 

12:52 p.m.: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

This story was originally published at 10:32 a.m.

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