'Jihad Jane' tied to terror plot

US woman indicted for recruiting people online to wage attacks

'Jihad Jane' tied to terror plot

A photo from a website which authorities say was  maintained by terror suspect Colleen LaRose. AFP

In an indictment unsealed on Tuesday, federal prosecutors accused Colleen R LaRose, an American from the suburbs of Philadelphia, of linking up through the Internet with militants overseas and plotting to carry out a murder.

LaRose, 46, was arrested in Philadelphia in October, but her case was kept under seal. Although the indictment does not identify the target, a law enforcement official said her case was linked to the arrests on Tuesday of seven Muslims in Ireland in connection with a scheme to kill cartoonist Lars Vilks. A group linked to al-Qaeda had put a $1,00,000 bounty on his head for the cartoon, which the group perceived as an insult to Islam.

European news reports said the Irish police, who arrested the four men and three women in Cork and Waterford, had coordinated the operation with the United States.
She is one of just a handful of women charged in the US with terrorism offences in recent years. Michael L Levy, US attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, said in a statement that the case illustrated how terrorists were looking for American recruits who could blend in.
LaRose is white, with blond hair and green eyes.

Martyr for a cause

The indictment said that in mid-2008, LaRose, using the aliases JihadJane and Fatima LaRose, began posting on YouTube and other Internet sites messages about her desire to help Muslims. By early 2009 she was exchanging emails with unidentified co-conspirators in Southeast Asia and Europe and expressed a desire to become a martyr for an Islamist cause.

The indictment refers to emails in which a conspirator, citing how LaRose’s appearance and American passport would make it easier for her to operate undetected, allegedly directed her in March 2009 to go to Sweden to help carry out a murder. She agreed to do so, writing, “I will make this my goal till I achieve it or die trying.” LaRose had attracted the government’s attention by then. She was questioned by FBI agents on July 17, 2009, and falsely told them that she had never solicited money online for terrorism, had never used the alias JihadJane.

Despite drawing the FBI’s attention, the indictment says LaRose travelled to Europe in August, joined an online community hosted by the intended Swedish victim and performed online searches to track him.

The indictment also says LaRose recruited other people on the Internet to wage or support jihadist attacks.

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