An FBI translator with top-secret security clearance married the ISIS operative she was assigned to investigate.
In 2014, Daniela Greene went to Syria to investigate Denis Cuspert, a German rapper that used the name Deso Dogg who had become an ISIS online recruiter, according to CNN.
Cuspert was reportedly so effective at recruiting violent jihadists that he was on the radar of counter-terrorism authorities on two continents. In Syria, Cuspert used the name Abu Talha al-Almani, and in a song, praised Osama bin Laden and threatened former President Barack Obama. In an ISIS propaganda video, he was seen holding a freshly-severed head.
Greene married Cuspert while in Syria but then fled back to the United States. She was arrested and pleaded guilty to making false statements involving international terrorism. Greene had lied to the FBI about where she was going and warned Cuspert that he was under investigation.
In exchange for a reduced sentence of two years, Greene cooperated with authorities.
Court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., state that prosecutors found Greene's conduct to be egregious and deserving of severe punishment. And Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Gillice said she had "violated the public trust, the trust of officials who granted her security clearance, and the trust of those with whom she worked and, in doing so, endangered our nation's security."
Even though Gillice found Greene's conduct to skirt "a line dangerously close to other more serous charges," she received the lighter sentence.
The average sentence given to Americans convicted in ISIS prosecutions is 13 and a half years in prison, according to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law.
Because of Greene's case, the FBI "took several steps in a variety of areas to identify and reduce security vulnerabilities," it said in a statement to CNN, adding that the agency "continues to strengthen protective measures in carrying out its vital work."
Exactly what steps the FBI took were not given.
"It's a stunning embarrassment for the FBI, no doubt about it," said John Kirby, a former State Department official, adding that he suspects Greene had to have the approval of top ISIS leaders to enter Syria.
Kirby said that outsiders who enter Syria risk "getting their heads cut off."
"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 coordinated," he said.
Greene was released from prison in the summer of 2016 and now reportedly works as a hostess in a hotel lounge.
She told CNN that she fears what will happen if she discusses her case.
"If I talk to you my family will be in danger," Greene said.
Her lawyer, former Assistant Federal Public Defender Shawn Moore, said Greene is genuinely remorseful for her actions.
"She was just a well-meaning person that got [caught] up in something way over her head," he said.
For the period of March 1, 2014 to April 19, 2017, there were a total of 136 ISIS-related cases in the United States, according to the Center on National Security at Fordham Law. Forty-four percent were domestic plotters, and 48 percent foreign fighters.