Philadelphia-based Keonna Thomas is a propagandist and alleged would-be foreign fighter for ISIS.Associated Press, “Philadelphia Woman Charged In Plot To Join ISIS To Remain Jailed,” ABC 6 Action News, April 9, 2015, http://6abc.com/news/phila-woman-charged-in-plot-to-join-isis-to-remain-jailed/644428/. According to the criminal complaint filed against her, the mother of two used her Twitter account to praise ISIS, and eventually sought to join the terror group.“Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, April 3, 2015, http://media.philly.com/documents/KeonnaThomasComplaint.pdf.
The FBI monitored Thomas’s online communications with jihadists abroad between August 2013 and March 2015, which led the bureau to conclude that her intention was to travel to Syria to join ISIS.“Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, April 3, 2015, http://media.philly.com/documents/KeonnaThomasComplaint.pdf. According to the criminal complaint, Thomas applied for a U.S. passport, obtained a Turkish visa, researched travel routes from Spain to Turkey, and purchased airline tickets to travel to Spain.“Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, April 3, 2015, http://media.philly.com/documents/KeonnaThomasComplaint.pdf. On January 4, 2014 she tweeted “Only thing I’m jealous of is when I see the smiles of shuhadaa [martyrs].”“Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, April 3, 2015, http://media.philly.com/documents/KeonnaThomasComplaint.pdf.
In April 2015, the FBI collected evidence and arrested Thomas in her Philadelphia home.Jeremy Roebuck, “U.S.: Phil. Woman tried to go to Mideast to support ISIS,” Philly.com, April 5, 2015, http://articles.philly.com/2015-04-05/news/60814497_1_isis-fbi-agents-north-philadelphia. She was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.“Philadelphia Woman Indicted On Charges She Tried to Assist And Join ISIL,” U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, April 23, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/usao-edpa/pr/philadelphia-woman-indicted-charges-she-tried-assist-and-join-isil.
On September 20, 2016, Thomas pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. At the hearing, she admitted to planning to abandon her children, move to Syria to marry an ISIS fighter she met online, and participate in “martyrdom operations.”Jeremy Roebuck, “North Philly Mom Admits to Planning to Abandon Kids for ISIS,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 20, 2016, https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/20160921_North_Philly_mom_admits_to_planning_to_abandon_kids_for_ISIS_fighter_she_married_over_Skype.html.
On September 6, 2017, Thomas was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years of post-release supervision.“United States v. Keonna Thomas – Judgement in a Criminal Case,” United States District Court – Eastern District of Pennsylvania, September 6, 2017, https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Keonna%20Thomas%20Judgment.pdf. Speaking before the judge imposed the sentence, Thomas stated that she “was not an evil or malicious person” and that she had been “impressionable.”Jeremy Roebuck, “North Philly Woman Gets 8 Year Term for Plan to Leave Kids, Marry IS Soldier,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 6, 2017, https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/philadelphia/north-philly-mom-gets-8-year-term-for-plan-to-leave-kids-marry-isis-soldier-20170906.html.
Thomas is currently incarcerated at Aliceville Federal Correctional Institution in Alabama, with a scheduled release date of February 21, 2022.“KEONNA THOMAS,” Find an Inmate – Federal Bureau of Prisons, accessed April 13, 2021, https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/.
- Extremist entity
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Insurgent, territory-controlling, religious, terrorist, violent
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, takfiri
- Propagandist, foreign fighter
ISIS is a violent jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has declared wilayas (provinces) in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. ISIS has also waged attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Kuwait.
Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.
On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.