The blonde middle-aged woman apparently raised no concerns with her boyfriend or her neighbours on Main Street, Pennsburg, near Philadelphia. But online she had allegedly agreed to kill in the name of holy war, believing her European looks would allow her to blend in among Swedes as she homed in on her target.
Colleen LaRose, according to a US court indictment, posted messages online under the name Jihad Jane, expressing her desire to participate in jihad, or holy war. Arrested in October 2009, Ms LaRose had exchanged emails over 15 months to recruit fighters for “violent jihad”.
Her activities apparently came as a surprise to her boyfriend Kurt Gorman, whom she met in 2005. Mr Gorman said: “She was a good-hearted person. She pretty much stayed around the house.” She looked after his father until his death in August 2009, but left their residence a day after the father’s funeral, taking Mr Gorman’s passport with her, allegedly to give to a contact in South Asia she had agreed to marry. “I came home and she was gone. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Having left the US in August, by the end of September, she had allegedly written online that it would be “an honour & great pleasure to die or kill for” her intended spouse, the indictment said. “Only death will stop me here that I am so close to the target!” she is accused of writing.
A Department of Justice statement said Ms LaRose and five others “recruited men on the internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad”.
Ms LaRose, a US citizen born in 1963, is charged with “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.” She was apparently approached by others after she posted a video on YouTube in June 2008, saying she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” ease the suffering of Muslims, the indictment said.
Web images show her wearing a Muslim headscarf, but Mr Gorman said he never saw anything like that at their home, nor did she attend any religious services. Unknown to him, she had allegedly agreed to travel to Sweden and kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks.
Lars Vilks’s cartoons of the prophet Muhammad were originally created for an art exhibition.
Four men and three women, all Muslim immigrants, were also arrested as part of the international investigation into a plot to kill Lars Vilks. The Swedish cartoonist drew the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog in 2007.
She denies soliciting funds for terrorist groups and of being the Jihad Jane of online postings, the indictment said. Very few women have been charged with terrorism in the US, the Justice Department said.
LaRose, 46, who also used the online name Fatima Rose, was arrested in October by the FBI terrorism unit at her home in Pennsylvania. Since her arrest Irish police have had her co-conspirators under surveillance. Details of LaRose’s arrest were only revealed following the terror raids in the Irish republic. (BBC)
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