FBI agent with top security clearance married Isis fighter she was meant to investigate
An FBI agent with top secret security clearance turned rogue and travelled to Syria to marry a wanted Isil fighter she had been assigned to investigate, it has emerged.
Daniela Greene, who worked as a translator for the agency, had used social media to spy on German jihadist Denis Cuspert, a former rapper who had gone by the moniker Deso Dogg.
Cuspert was a prolific online recruiter for the group, who gained a reputation as one of its most brutal foreign fighters. He featured in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) videos threatening the then president Barack Obama and holding a freshly severed head.
But in an extraordinary twist that mirrors the plot of the hit TV series Homeland, which sees CIA operative Carrie (Claire Danes) fall in love with soldier-turned-jihadist Brody (Damian Lewis), the two became close and Cuspert convinced Greene to join him in Syria.
She left in late June 2014 without telling her employers of her plan, according to Federal Court documents seen by CNN.
Greene, 38, contacted Cuspert on Skype and they arranged a plan for her to travel to Istanbul, where the two would meet and marry before crossing the border into Syria.
Just two weeks after arriving, the agent sent emails from inside Syria to an unidentified person in the US showing she was having second thoughts.
"I was weak and didn't know how to handle anything anymore," she wrote on July 8. "I really made a mess of things this time."
In another, she said: "I am gone and I can't come back. I wouldn't even know how to make it through, if I tried to come back. I am in a very harsh environment and I don't know how long I will last here, but it doesn't matter, it's all a little too late..."
Greene, born in Czechoslovakia and raised in Germany and later the US, spent a few months in Syria before realising her mistake and returning to America, whereupon she was arrested on terrorism charges.
She received a two-year-sentence and was released last summer.
The incident, which was only brought to light after a judge unsealed some of the court documents, will be a major embarrassment for the security services.
"It's a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it," said John Kirby, a former State Department official, who said he suspects Greene's entry into Syria required the approval of top Isil leaders.
Most outsiders trying to get into an Isil region in Syria risk "getting their heads cut off," said Mr Kirby. "So for her to be able to get in as an American, as a woman, as an FBI employee, and to be able to take up residence with a known ISIS leader, that all had to be co-ordinated."
The FBI had no reason at the time to suspect Greene, who was hired for her fluent German and had been extensively vetted, would defect.
At the time of her departure, she had an American husband who she told that she was going to visit her parents in Munich, Germany. Instead, she went to Istanbul where she contacted Cuspert.
Greene, who now works as a hostess in a hotel lounge, said in a brief interview that she was fearful of discussing the details of her case.
"If I talk to you my family will be in danger," Greene said.
Shawn Moore, Greene’s lawyer, described her as "smart, articulate and obviously naïve."