Woman sentenced for supporting Islamic State

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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman was sentenced Friday to five years and 10 months in federal prison for attempting to send cellphones to the Middle East to be used as bomb detonators by the Islamic State terrorist group.

Alison Marie Sheppard, 35, of Punta Gorda, had pleaded guilty in Fort Myers federal court last year to attempting to provide material support to IS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Sheppard began using Facebook and other social media applications in 2016 to connect with others who supported a Salafi jihadist mindset and IS, according to court documents. She also used social media applications to engage in encrypted communications with people she believed were supporters of IS. One of those people was later apprehended by the FBI and began cooperating with federal law enforcement. Sheppard also began communicating with two undercover agents who she believed were IS supporters.

In June 2017, Sheppard told the agents she could purchase and ship the cellphones for IS, prosecutors said. She bought 10 phones the next month and mailed them to one of the agents, believing they would be forwarded to the Middle East and used in pressure cooker bombs.

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