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'Jihad Jane' pleads guilty to terror charges

Last updated on: February 2, 2011 14:15 IST

'Jihad Jane' pleads guilty to terror charges

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An American woman, who styled herself 'Jihad Jane', on Wednesday pleaded guilty to charges that she worked online to support Islamic terrorists and moved overseas to plot the killing of a Swedish artist who drew cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.

Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Colleen LaRose replied "yes" when she was asked by United States District Court Judge Petrese Tucker in a Philadelphia court if she was pleading guilty, after denying the charges last year.

LaRose, 47, changed her plea to guilty to all counts of a superseding indictment charging her with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements and attempted identity theft.

LaRose was arrested in October 2009 in a plot to kill cartoonist Lars Vilks, whose cartoons had angered many across the Muslim world. She faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison and a one million dollar fine when sentenced on March 3.

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Image: Colleen LaRose is pictured in this handout released by Site Intelligence Group
Photographs: Reuters
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LaRose had pleaded not guilty to the charges last year. "Today's guilty plea, by a woman from suburban America who plotted with others to commit murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris said.

LaRose's case, which came to light months after Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley was charged with plotting terrorist attacks in India and Denmark, was seen as a disturbing new development of home-grown terrorism.

Like Headley, her American citizenship and appearance made it easy for her to travel in and out of the country undetected. A former resident of Pennsylvania, LaRose was charged by indictment in March 2010.

 


Image: LaRose has been charged with plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist and trying to recruit fighters
Photographs: Reuters
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A superseding indictment was filed in April 2010, adding co-defendant Jamie Paulin Ramirez, a US citizen and former resident of Colorado. Ramirez is awaiting trial that is scheduled to begin May 2, 2011.

According to documents filed with the court, LaRose and her co-conspirators recruited men and women on the internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe.

She recruited women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad, the documents added. Prosecutors said LaRose "worked obsessively on her computer to communicate with, recruit and incite other jihadists."

LaRose and her co-conspirators communicated on the internet with each other regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions.

She also stole her boyfriend's US passport and transferred it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism. In e-mails recovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, LaRose had also agreed to marry an online contact from South Asia so he could move to Europe.

 


Image: Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who drew the controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammad
Photographs: Reuters
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In addition, LaRose also received a direct order to kill the Sweden cartoonist in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar (non-believer) world." LaRose had allegedly bragged in one e-mail that her appearance allowed her to go anywhere undetected, saying it was "an honour and great pleasure to die or kill for" jihad.

She had posted a comment on YouTube in 2008 that she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" the suffering Muslim people.

LaRose travelled to Europe in 2009 where she planned to train with jihadists and find and kill Vilks. She used aliases including 'JihadJane', 'ExtremeSister4Life' and 'SisterOfTerror' on the internet.

LaRose has a history of broken marriages and petty crime. She lived with her boyfriend Kurt Gorman and his father in Pennsburg, near Philadelphia. Gorman had said he sensed nothing amiss in their five-year relationship. She later swiped Gorman's passport and planned to give it to a co-conspirator, the indictment said.

 


Image: Protesters hold placards and shout slogans during a demonstration against Lars Vilks
Photographs: Reuters
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