An American woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” online has pleaded guilty in Pennsylvania to her role in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims.
Colleen LaRose, 47, helped terror suspects intent on starting a holy war in Europe and South Asia, prosecutors said.
LaRose, also accused of using the online name “Fatima LaRose”, has been in custody since October 2009 and faced a possible life sentence under charges in a four-count indictment. Her female co-defendant Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, of Colorado, has pleaded not guilty since she was arrested in Ireland with other terror suspects.
The March 2010 indictment charged LaRose with conspiring with jihadist fighters and pledging to commit murder in the name of a Muslim holy war, or jihad. The indictment was announced after authorities arrested seven suspected terrorists in Ireland allegedly linked to LaRose.
In emails recovered by the FBI over 15 months, LaRose agreed to marry an internet contact from South Asia so he could move to Europe. She also agreed to become a martyr, the indictment said.
The man she had agreed to marry told her in a March 2009 email to go to Sweden to find the artist, Lars Vilks, who had depicted the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog, the indictment said.
LaRose, born in Michigan, moved to Texas as a girl and had married twice by age 24. Both unions were long over by the time she met Pennsylvanian Kurt Gorman in 2005.
LaRose lived with Mr Gorman and his father in Pennsburg, caring for the older man while Mr Gorman worked, Mr Gorman said. But her internet ties grew to a loose band of allegedly violent co-conspirators from around the world, prosecutors said.
Mr Gorman said he sensed nothing amiss in their relationship – until LaRose fled days after his father’s funeral. It is unclear how she was able to travel overseas, given that the FBI, presumably tipped to her online postings, had interviewed her in July 2009. According to the indictment, she denied soliciting funds for terrorist causes or making the postings ascribed to “JihadJane.”
By September 30 2009, she wrote online that it would be “an honour and 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. She was arrested the following month upon her return to the US