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Woman accused of aiding Islamic State, double-crossing U.S., faces up to life in prison

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By Peter Szekely

NEWYORK (Reuters) – A U.S. woman charged with working as an Islamic State recruiter under the code name “Umm Nutella,” who agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors but then divulged her deal to extremists while out on bail, could be sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday.

Sinmyah Amera Ceasar, who has used that pseudonym, has pleaded guilty to two federal charges for her efforts to aid Islamic State and other extremist groups, according to papers filed in federal court in Brooklyn.

“The defendant’s conduct is deeply troubling,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in court papers.

Donoghue laid out a cloak-and-dagger saga that began with Ceasar’s arrest 2-1/2 years ago as he asked a judge to deny bail in a letter unsealed on Monday and dated Feb. 6.

Ceasar was taken into custody in November 2016 at Kennedy International Airport as she tried to leave the United States. She confessed to using Facebook and other platforms to connect people with Islamic State members who would help them travel to territory controlled by the group, Donoghue said.

She pleaded guilty to related charges in February 2017 under a cooperation agreement and was released on bail in April 2018, he said.

Her bail was revoked the following July after prosecutors learned that she had contacted numerous people, including those she had previously told federal agents were supporters of ISIS or other extremists groups, he said.

“The fbi put me under a different name because they wanted my case too be sealed,” she told a Taliban-supporting associate in the United States in a Facebook exchange, prosecutors said in court papers. “How the heck we know i was going to arrested out fo no where.”

In an April 15 letter to the woman’s lawyers, which was also just unsealed, Donoghue said the government estimated the sentencing guidelines for her crimes to be 30 years to life. The letter also revealed that the woman had pleaded guilty to a second unspecified charge or charges on March 7.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

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