Sam El Hassani, also known as “Samantha Sally,” 32, an American woman and former resident of Elkhart, Indiana, was charged on Wednesday with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) after leaving with her Moroccan husband to Syria.
“My office is committed to aggressively pursuing and prosecuting those who support designated terrorist organizations such as ISIS. This indictment is an example of that commitment,” United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II for the Northern District of Indiana said, according to local NBC affiliate WNDU. “The indictment alleges that Elhassani travelled abroad and provided funds and supplies for use by two ISIS fighters. The seriousness of the charges reflect[s] the gravity of Elhassani’s alleged conduct.”
“The charges against Ms. El Hassani illustrate that actions of providing support to ISIS have serious consequences, and should serve as a reminder to American citizens that providing assistance to terrorist organizations or individuals aligned with terrorist entities will not be tolerated,” said Grant Mendenhall, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division.
El Hassani reportedly told prosecutors that her husband Moussa, a Moroccan national, tricked her into traveling with their children to Syria during a family vacation in Turkey in 2015. While in Raqqa, the couple’s son Matthew appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video and her husband became an ISIS militant and sniper and died while fighting.
In late 2017, El Hassani fled Raqqa with her children and went to a Kurdish detention camp, where she and her four children had been living until they were transferred into the custody of U.S. law enforcement and brought home to Indiana to await an upcoming court hearing.
PBS reported, “Her children are currently in the care of Indiana Department of Child Services, which the Justice Department said ‘will now make any necessary determinations regarding their custody, safety and well-being,’ without providing further details.”
El Hassani’s case is one of dozens of underreported incidents where women are dragged into situations like hers due to radicalization by their significant others.