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Islamic Militancy

FBI translator Daniela Greene married Islamic State fighter she spied on

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 10:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 May, 2017, 10:36pm

An FBI translator travelled to Syria to marry a former German rapper turned Islamic State recruiter she was supposed to be investigating, it has been revealed.

Daniela Greene, who warned her jihadi bridegroom he was under investigation, quickly began having second thoughts and returned to the US shortly afterwards. She pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism and was sentenced to two years in prison. She was released in August last year.

Details of the extraordinary case have only just emerged after a CNN investigation .

Greene, who is fluent in German, was assigned to investigate German citizen Denis Cuspert in January 2014. As gangster rapper Deso Dogg, Cuspert once opened a concert for the American music star DMX. But he traded rap tracks for videos encouraging people to fight for Isis, becoming one of the organisation’s most influential recruiters.

Adopting the nom de guerre Abu Talha al-Almani in Syria, he praised Osama bin Laden in song, threatened Barack Obama with a throat-slitting gesture and held a severed human head in a propaganda video.

As part of her investigation into him, Greene, 38, maintained sole access to one of two Skype accounts used by Cuspert, according to court documents seen by CNN.

In June 2014, after filling in a foreign travel form – as required for all FBI employees – saying she was going to Germany to see her family, Greene instead flew to Turkey and from there travelled to Syria.

I really made a mess of things this time
Daniela Greene, on her marriage to jihadist Denis Cuspert

Once there she married “Individual A”, as Cuspert is referred to in the court documents. In emails sent to an unidentified person in the US in July, Greene began to show signs of regret, describing herself as weak and saying: “I really made a mess of things this time.”

Meanwhile, Cuspert continued his activities, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), which said that he was seen in a video beating a corpse with sandal after Isis took over gas fields in Homs in July 2014.

It is unclear how US authorities became aware of what Greene had done, but on August 1 a warrant was secretly issued for her arrest and, seven days later, after somehow managing to flee back to the US, she was arrested.

In December, after co-operation described by assistant US attorney Thomas Gillice as “significant, long-running and substantial”, she was sentenced to two years in jail.

The following year the judge eventually allowed some of the details of the case, which had been conducted through a number of secret hearings and court filings, to be made public.

In court papers, Gillice said Greene had “violated the public trust, the trust of the officials who granted her security clearance, and the trust of those with whom she worked and, in doing so, endangered our nation’s security”.

He said her escape from Syria unharmed had been “a stroke of luck or a measure of the lack of savvy on the part of the terrorists with whom she interacted”.

But, arguing for a lighter sentence, Gillice said that she had “attempted to right her wrongs, and to ultimately assist her country again”.

According to analysis, the average sentence in Isis-related prosecutions in the US is 13.5 years.

CNN reported that Greene was now working as a hostess in a hotel lounge and had declined to comment for fear it could endanger her family. Her attorney, Shawn Moore, described his client as “just a well-meaning person that got up in something way over her head”.

The FBI told CNN that as a result of Greene’s case it “took several steps in a variety of areas to identify and reduce security vulnerabilities”.