Just a few years ago, 38-year-old Daniela Greene was an FBI translator with top-secret clearance and married to a U.S. soldier. In 2014, she told friends she was travelling to Germany to visit family. Instead, she flew to Turkey, crossed the border into Syria, and married one of ISIS’s most notorious recruiters — the very target she’d been previously assigned to investigate.
According to CNN, the recruiter in question is Denis Cuspert, and before joining ISIS, he was a German rapper that went by the name “Deso Dogg.” In Syria, he’s now known as Abu Talha al-Almani, a star of the terror group’s propaganda arm.
— CNN (@CNN) May 2, 2017
Since joining ISIS around 2013, Cuspert has appeared in a number of recruitment videos. CNN reported that he’s appeared in recordings “prais[ing] Osama bin Laden in a song, threaten[ing] former President Barack Obama with a throat-cutting gesture … and holding a freshly severed human head.”
CNN reports that Greene uncovered Cuspert’s contact information during an FBI investigation, and kept one Skype address a secret from the agency. The pair began correspondence before lying to the FBI about her travel outside the U.S. and “warn[ing] her new husband he was under investigation,” according to court documents.
But Greene’s wedding bliss didn’t last long: Just a few weeks later, Greene returned to the United States. She was arrested upon reentry and spent two years in federal prison before her release in the summer of 2016.
“It’s a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it,” John Kirby, a former State Department official told CNN.
There has been some public outrage about the lightness of her sentence. Greene is already out of prison, working as a hotel hostess. However, the prosecutor in her case suggested that she was treated less severely by the federal government because of her cooperation with authorities upon her return to the United States.
Greene was working with the FBI in Detroit, Michigan when she fled to Syria. But before that, her first husband’s Army career brought her to South Carolina, where she got her Master’s degree at Clemson University.
“She was just a well-meaning person that got up in something way over her head,” her lawyer, Shawn Moore, told CNN.