(CBS) — A mother of four from Indiana has been charged with providing money and tactical gear to two ISIS fighters, but she has said her husband tricked her into traveling with their children to Syria, where he died fighting for the Islamic State.
Samantha Elhassani, 32, has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and one count of false statements.
Elhassani, of Elkhart, allegedly provided tactical gear and funds to two unidentified ISIS fighters.
Her attorney, Thomas Durkin, called the charges “wrong-headed and cruel.” He said Elhassani is “a victim of her jihadist husband (who) should be receiving treatment rather than incarceration” and that she should not be separated from her children.
Earlier this year, Elhassani told CNN she left the U.S. with her husband in 2014, after he promised them a new life in his native Morocco. Instead, they traveled to Syria, where he died fighting for ISIS.
Elhassani said she and her husband were planning to start a new life in his native Morocco in 2014, and her husband told her they needed to go through Hong Kong to transfer money.
Instead of going from there to Morocco, her husband took the family to the Turkish border with Syria, where she said he essentially kept her prisoner in their hotel until he took them to the Syrian border to go to ISIS’s so-called caliphate.
As she held her son, and her husband held her daughter, Elhassani said she faced an impossible choice: saving her son, but abandoning her daughter to ISIS, or following her husband into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria to protect her daughter.
“Maybe I would never have seen my daughter again ever, and how can I live the rest of my life like that,” she told CNN.
Elhassani said, once in ISIS society, she was jailed for three months for trying to escape, held in solitary confinement, tortured, and sexually abused. She said her husband also forced their son to make propaganda films for ISIS, and beat her when she tried to stop him.
She gave birth to two more children before her husband was killed in a drone strike, and eventually was arrested after ISIS collapsed in Raqqa.
Elhassani and her four children have been brought back to Indiana, where she is in federal custody, and her children are in the care of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
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