Arvada woman hoped to join violent jihad

DENVER- Court documents just unsealed reveal a young Arvada woman was arrested in April with plans to fly to Syria to help terrorists after falling for an online jihadist.

Shannon Maureen Conley, 19, was about to fly out to Turkey when she was arrested by FBI agents who found CDs and DVDs relating to jihad and Al-Qaeda in her possession.

A source close to the case told 9Wants to Know Conley is a "lonely misguided suburban girl who fell in love with a jihadist online" and that FBI agents routinely tried talking with Conley about her sympathies for terrorists.

WATCH: Arvada woman hoped to join violent jihad

The arrest occurred in April but wasn't publicly known until now because a judge recently ordered the criminal complaint against Conley unsealed.

The complaint says Conley began an online relationship with a man known as "Y.M." who claimed to be a fighter in Syria. In the court documents, Conley told FBI agents she planned to fly to "Turkey and wait there until associates of her suitor contacted her."


9NEWS has learned Conley attended Arvada West High School. One of her classmates, Meghan Morelli, says Conley kept to herself at school and started wearing long dresses and head scarves in her junior year.

Court documents describe Conley's parents as struggling with their daughter's online relationship with the man known as Y.M.

"Conley and Y.M. decided to become engaged; and, together with each other and others both known and unknown, arranged to have Conley travel to Syria and be with Y.M.," court documents said.

Law enforcement encounters with Conley began in late 2013, according to court documents, when she was spotted acting suspiciously around the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Conley was seen taking notes around the church, which was the site of an active shooter incident in 2007.

When asked about her visits to the church, the complaint said Conley told an Arvada police detective "I hate those people," and "If they think I'm a terrorist, I'll give them something to think I am."

In December, Conley told FBI agents she joined the US Army Explorers program so she could be "trained in US military tactics and firearms," according to the complaint. "She said she intended to use that training to go overseas to wage Jihad," the complaint said.

9NEWS obtained photos of Conley attending a U.S. Army Explorers conference in Fort Worth in February. The group's Facebook page even asks for others to help raise money for Conley through an auction to attend the conference.

"Officer Candidate Shannon Conley, from Denver is an Army of one in Denver by herself, and is trying to help with formation of a unit there," a post from December 11 said.

Conley remains in federal custody and is charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization. If convicted, Conley could face 15 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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