FBI agent goes to Syria, marries ISIL militant
ISTANBULAn FBI agent, who was assigned to investigate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant Denis Cuspert in Syria, has hit headlines after falling in love and marrying him. It has also been reported that she stayed in a hotel in Istanbul before heading to Syria in 2014.
According to federal court records obtained by CNN International, the agent, Daniela Greene, lied to the FBI about where she was going and warned her new husband that he was under investigation.
Cuspert, a German rapper turned ISIL militant, whose growing influence as an online recruiter for violent jihadists had put him on the radar of counter-terrorism authorities on two continents, was killed in an air strike near the northern Syria city of Raqqa in 2015.
On June 11, 2014, Greene filled out a Report of Foreign Travel form, which is a document that FBI employees and contractors with national security clearances are required to complete before traveling abroad.
Greene, who was still married to her American husband at the time, characterized her travel on the form as “Vacation/Personal,” according to CNN International.
“Want to see my family,” she wrote, adding that she was going to see her parents in Munich, Germany. She boarded an international flight on June 23, 2014 and flew on a one-way ticket to Istanbul.
Before moving to Syria, Greene arrived in Istanbul and booked a room in a hotel in Sultanahmet. She stayed in the Erguvan Hotel on June 23, 2014, daily Habertürk reported on May 3.
When asked about information on Greene, hotel employees said thousands of tourists stay at their hotel each year and they cannot remember her.
“We record the ID information of all of our guests. If she was in a suspicious situation, the police would have arrived,” one employee told Habertürk.
After staying in Istanbul, Greene went to the southeastern province of Gaziantep to cross into Syria.
In Germany, Cuspert went by the rap name Deso Dogg. In Syria, he was known as Abu Talha al-Almani. He praised Osama bin Laden in a song, threatened former President Barack Obama with a throat-cutting gesture and appeared in propaganda videos, including one in which he was holding a severed human head.
Within weeks of marrying Cuspert, Greene, 38, seemed to realize she had made a terrible mistake. She fled back to the U.S. in August 2014, where she was immediately arrested and agreed to cooperate with authorities. She pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism and was sentenced to two years in federal prison. She was released last summer.
“It’s a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it,” John Kirby, a former State Department official, told CNN, adding that he suspects Greene’s entry into Syria required the approval of top ISIL leaders.