A former FBI translator who held a top-secret security clearance fled to Syria and married the Islamic State fighter she had been tasked with investigating. For this, she was sentenced to just two years in prison.
That’s according to redacted documents released Monday by a federal court in Washington, D.C., which describe the bizarre saga of Czech-born Daniela Greene, who lived in the U.S. and worked as a contract translator at the FBI. She was tasked with keeping tabs on Denis Cuspert (pictured above in 2005), a German rapper turned ISIS fighter, but instead she snuck into Syria, alerted him to the FBI’s investigation, and married him.
On June 11, 2014, Green told her FBI supervisor in Indianapolis that she was heading to Germany to visit family. She then boarded an Air Canada flight bound for Turkey and proceeded to slip across the border into Syria. A month later, she married Cuspert and told him “that she was employed by the FBI and that the FBI had an open investigation into his activities,” according to court records.
CNN, which first reported Green’s case, said it had been able to confirm with a source close to the investigation that the ISIS fighter Greene married was, in fact, Cuspert, a German national who previously performed as Deso Dogg and once toured with DMX. According to the State Department, Cuspert now goes by the the name Abu Talha al-Almani and is an ISIS recruiter who has been instrumental in the drive to persuade Westerners to join the militant group.
Almani was reported killed in a 2015 airstrike, but the Pentagon later retracted the claim.
Greene is just one of many so-called jihadi brides who have been convinced to travel to ISIS territory and marry the group’s fighters. While some of the women have gone on to become integral to the Islamic State’s ability to recruit and radicalize more women, others quickly found themselves disenchanted with the grim reality of life inside the self-proclaimed caliphate.
Greene was apparently in the latter group.
“I am in a very harsh environment and I don’t know how long I will last here,” she wrote in an email included in the court documents. “But it doesn’t matter, it’s all a little too late.”
The FBI managed to track the IP address of a Skype account used in Syria by Greene, though the identities of the people with whom she was Skyping and emailing — believed to be family and friends back home — were redacted. The IP address matched one commonly used by ISIS fighters.
In another email obtained by authorities, Greene wrote, “I will probably go to prison for a long time if I come back, but that is life.”
That, however, is not what happened. Greene was arrested by the FBI shortly after returning to the U.S. in August 2014. But she wasn’t charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization — a charge that carries with it the promise of significant prison time — as many other women in her position have been. Instead, Greene faced only a charge of “making false statements to the FBI” about her travel plans, to which she pleaded guilty.
In its submission for sentencing, the government pointed out Greene’s lack of a past criminal record, her confession to investigators, and her “long-running and substantial” cooperation since her arrest. “After the egregious abuse of her position, the defendant attempted to right her wrongs, and to ultimately assist her country again,” it wrote.
Greene was sentenced to two years in prison and released last August. CNN reported that she now works as a hostess in a hotel lounge.