Jihad Jane, Colleen LaRose, Recruited Terrorists And Plotted Murder, Prosecutors Say
PHILADELPHIA (AP)-- A suburban Philadelphia woman "desperate to do something" to help suffering Muslims has been charged with using the Internet to recruit jihadist fighters and help terrorists overseas, even agreeing to move to Europe to try to kill someone, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Authorities said the case shows how terror groups are looking to recruit Americans to carry out their goals.
A federal indictment charges that Colleen R. LaRose, who called herself JihadJane online, agreed to kill a Swedish citizen on orders from the unnamed terrorists and traveled to Europe to carry out the killing. It doesn't say whether the Swede was killed, but LaRose was not charged with murder.
A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman wouldn't confirm the case is related to a group of people arrested in Ireland earlier Tuesday on suspicion of plotting against a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.
But a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said LaRose had targeted the Swedish cartoonist and had online discussions about her plans with at least one of the suspects apprehended in Ireland. The official wasn't authorized to discuss details of the investigation.
The official also said LaRose, who has blond hair and blue eyes, indicated in her online conversations that she believed her appearance would help her move freely in Sweden to carry out the attack.
LaRose is a convert to Islam who actively recruited others, including at least one unidentified American, and her online messages expressed impatience to take action, the official said.
U.S. Attorney Michael Levy said the indictment doesn't link LaRose, a U.S. citizen who moved to Europe in August 2009, to any organized terror groups.
LaRose, 46, lived in Montgomery County, Pa., before moving to Europe, authorities said. She called herself JihadJane in a YouTube video in which she said she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" ease the suffering of Muslims, the indictment said. According to the 11-page document, she agreed to obtain residency in a European country and marry one of the terrorists to enable him to live there.
"Today's indictment, which alleges that a woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.
LaRose also agreed to provide her co-conspirators in Asia and Europe financial and passport help, the indictment charged.
LaRose has been in federal custody since her Oct. 15 arrest in Philadelphia, authorities said. She had an initial court appearance the next day but didn't enter a plea.
Her federal public defender Mark T. Wilson declined to comment Tuesday.
Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett contributed to this report from Washington.