FBI: The translator who married a terrorist
It’s like something out of “the hit TV series Homeland,” said Josie Ensor in Telegraph.co.uk. In 2014, an FBI translator with a top-secret security clearance was assigned to investigate an ISIS fighter. Instead, Czech-born contractor Daniela Greene, 38, “turned rogue,” a CNN investigation has revealed—leaving her American husband and traveling to Syria to marry the jihadist. Greene had been “tasked with keeping tabs on Denis Cuspert,” a 41-year-old former German rapper who moved to Syria and made influential ISIS recruitment videos, including one in which he held a severed human head, said Justin Ling in Vice.com. During the investigation, Greene somehow fell in love with Cuspert and got in touch with him, probably over Skype. Not long after, she told the FBI she was traveling to Germany to see her family, and instead flew to Turkey and slipped across the border into ISIS territory. But 11 days after marrying Cuspert, Greene apparently had a change of heart. “I really made a mess of things this time,” she wrote in an email.
This whole bizarre incident “exposes an embarrassing breach of national security at the FBI,” said Scott Glover in CNN.com. Greene’s entry into Syria likely required the approval of top ISIS leaders. As it was, she lasted just over a month in the so-called caliphate. She fled Syria and was arrested two days after arriving back in the U.S.— ultimately serving two years in prison for lying to the FBI. That lenient sentence has raised questions about whether Greene was given special treatment by prosecutors. “Even failed attempts to travel to Syria and join ISIS have earned defendants much stiffer prison sentences”—averaging around 13½ years, according to one analysis.
Prosecutors sought a shorter sentence because Greene fully cooperated, said Tresa Baldas in the Detroit Free Press, likely giving them vital information about Cuspert and his fellow ISIS fighters. Months after Greene pleaded guilty, Cuspert reportedly survived an airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa. Generally, the FBI is in a tricky situation with translators. Linguists do crucial work, but many are foreign-born and “hard to properly vet.” Greene herself seems to deeply regret her behavior, said Dean Reynolds in CBSNews.com. In court documents, the former translator—who now works in a hotel lounge— describes herself as “weak,” while her attorney claims she was just a naïve woman who got in way over her head. “Love,” it seems, “can make you do strange things.”