Picture taken on June 20, 2005 shows Former German rapper Denis Cuspert alias Deso Dogg posing for a photographer in Berlin
An FBI agent with the highest security clearance travelled to Syria to marry an ISIL fighter she had been assigned to investigate, it emerged Monday.
Daniela Greene, who worked as a translator for the agency, had used social media to spy on Denis Cuspert, a German jihadist and former rapper who went by the name Deso Dogg.
Cuspert was a prolific online recruiter for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who gained a reputation as one of its most brutal foreign fighters. He featured in ISIL videos threatening the then U.S. president Barack Obama and holding a freshly severed head.
But in a twist that mirrors the plot of the television series Homeland, in which a CIA operative played by Claire Danes falls in love with a soldier-turned-jihadist played by Damian Lewis, the two became close and Cuspert convinced Greene to join him in Syria.
Picture taken on May 5, 2012 shows Denis Cuspert (centre)
She left in secret in late June 2014, 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.
At the time of her departure, she was married to a U.S. soldier. She told him that she was going to visit her parents in Munich, Germany.
Two weeks later, the agent sent emails from inside Syria to an unidentified person in the U.S. 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, who was born in Czechoslovakia and raised in Germany and later the U.S., only spent a short time in Syria before realizing she had made an error and returned to America, where she was arrested on terrorism charges.
She received a relatively lenient two-year-sentence and was released last summer.
Cupert is believed to have been injured in a U.S. air strike in October 2015, but is thought to still be alive.
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 suspected Greene’s entry into Syria had required the approval of top ISIL leaders.
I am in a very harsh environment and I don’t know how long I will last here, but it doesn’t matter
Most outsiders trying to get into an ISIL region in Syria risk “getting their heads cut off,” said 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 ISIL leader, that all had to be coordinated.”
The FBI had no reason at the time to suspect Greene, who was hired for her fluent German and had been extensively vetted.
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,” she said.
Shawn Moore, Greene’s lawyer, described her as “smart, articulate and obviously naive”.
“She was just a well-meaning person that got up in something way over her head,” Moore said.