DETROIT (WWJ) – In a case making headlines across the world, a now former FBI agent left the U.S. after falling in love with an Islamic State terrorist.
Translator Daniela Greene, 38, was working out of the FBI Detroit office in 2014 when she was assigned to investigate German-born jihadist Denis Cuspert — aka Abu Talha al-Almani — who had appeared in ISIS propaganda videos holding human heads.
She became so smitten, it’s reported, that she moved with him to Syria where they married in 2014. She then allegedly lied to the FBI about where she was going and warned her new husband he was under investigation, according to federal court records unsealed by CNN.
“It’s a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it,” John Kirby, a former State Department official told CNN.
Political Science Professor Peter Trumbore says, while this may sound like a wild tale, it’s far from an isolated incident.
“This pattern of what are often referred as ‘ISIS brides’ is not all that unusual,” Trumbore told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “…These are age-old counter-espionage techniques, you know. These are used to both try to get information and to infiltrate groups that you want access to.”
It’s certainly happened throughout history, he said — with both men and women.
“Some of this is not that much different from what we saw in the 60s and the 70s with the sort of rebel and radical chic and sort of the attractiveness of the transgressive figure, the attractiveness of the revolutionary,” Trumbore said.
“…In the U.S. we see this going back to the Civil War, we have cases,” he said. “There was a woman from, believe it or not, eastern Virginia whose name was Belle Starr who basically used feminine wiles to gather information on behalf of the Confederacy.”
Catching back up to today, Trumbore said while there is a precedent for women falling for ISIS fighters, this is a standout case as those women are typically younger and don’t have Greene’s Masters Degree level of education.
Greene eventually changed her mind and came back to the U.S., pleading guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism. She received just two years in prison.
While much has been made of the light sentence, Trumbore said it was no doubt in exchange for a great deal of valuable information Green has provided the U.S. that will help in the fight against ISIS.
Responding to a call Tuesday by WWJ for comment, in a statement, the FBI said: “As a result of this case the FBI took several steps in a variety of areas to identify and reduce security vulnerabilities. The FBI continues to strengthen protective measures in carrying out its vital work.”