Colleen R. LaRose a.k.a. “Jihad Jane” a.k.a. “Fatima LaRose”, was indicted on multiple charges including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Announcing the unsealing of the indictment on Wednesday, DoJ officials said Ms. LaRose and five unindicted co-conspirators based in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States used the Internet to recruit would-be terrorists to “wage a violent jihad” in South Asia and Europe. Further they recruited, again via the Internet, women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.
If convicted of the charges against her, Ms. LaRose faces a potential sentence of life in prison and a $1-million fine.
Ms. LaRose, an American citizen born in 1963 and residing in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, was arrested in Philadelphia in October 2009. Wednesday's indictment further alleges that Ms. LaRose received “a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten the whole Kufar [non-believer] world”.
According to reports, Ms. LaRose's target was likely to have been Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who became the target of Islamist extremists after a cartoon of his was seen as an insult to Islam. Ms. LaRose's indictment comes on the same day as the police in Cork, Ireland, arrested four men and three women on similar charges of plotting to kill Mr. Vilks.
The DoJ added that Ms. LaRose and her co-conspirators discussed that “her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans”. Ms. LaRose also travelled to Europe and tracked the intended target online to complete her task, according to the DoJ.
“Today's indictment … underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney-General for the National Security Division. “This case shows the use terrorists can and do make of the Internet,” said U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy.
Highlighting new dimensions of terror threats, Mr. Levy said: “It demonstrates yet another very real danger lurking on the Internet. This case also demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause, and it shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance.”