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A former FBI translator traveled to Syria to marry a high-profile recruiter for the so-called Islamic State who she was supposed to be investigating, according to a CNN investigation.
In January 2014, Daniela Greene was given an assignment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate German national Denis Cuspert, who had traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS.
Cuspert, a man of many names, had been a rising rap artist in his home country, working under the name Deso Dogg, but had abandoned his career and birth name to call himself Abou Maleeq after his conversion to Islam. He was almost immediately recognized when he surfaced in an ISIS propaganda video despite his new alias, Abu Talha al-Almani.
According to CNN, as part of the ongoing investigation, Greene was given access to two Skype accounts as channels to Cuspert through which the pair communicated. By June 2014, the translator was headed to Syria via Turkey, having submitted security documents to the FBI that said she was traveling to Germany to visit family.
On arrival to Syria, Greene married Cuspert, despite having an American husband, but within weeks regretted her decision.
“I really made a mess of things this time,” read an email home that is quoted in federal court documents, which until recently remained sealed.
By the time an arrest warrant was issued by U.S. authorities, Greene had somehow returned to the U.S., where she was then apprehended. Greene was noted for her “significant, long-running, and substantial” cooperation with the court and expressed consistent remorse. Her attorney, Shawn Moore, describing her as “just a well-meaning person that got up in something way over her head.”
Greene was sentenced to two years in prison—a much lighter sentence than those given to other ISIS affiliates. She was released from prison in August 2016 and has resumed her life in the hospitality trade. Meanwhile, Cuspert has reportedly narrowly survived a number of U.S. airstrikes and battlefield scrapes with rebel groups.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.