By Frank James
Federal prosecutors unveiled an indictment against a Philadelphia-area woman they allege used the Internet to recruit men and women around the globe for potential terror attacks in Europe.
According to prosecutors, Colleen LaRose, a 47-year old convert to Islam who also went by the screen name Jihad Jane, expressed a desire to take part in violent holy war and communicated with others of like mind. As a result of the indictment, LaRose became one of the few American women charged with violating U.S. terrorism laws.
Specifically, the indictment accuses LaRose of volunteering to be murder a Swedish artist the document doesn't identify but who has been identified elsewhere as Lar Vilks. Vilks drew the hatred of his would-be killers by portraying the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.
An excerpt from the press release issued by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The indictment charges that American citizen LaRose and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the United States) 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. The indictment further charges that LaRose and her unindicted co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports, and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. The indictment further charges that LaRose stole another individual's U.S. passport and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
In addition, according to the indictment, 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 [nonbeliever] world." The indictment further charges that LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, and that she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. According to the indictment, LaRose traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task.
"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. "I applaud the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked on this important investigation."
This case shows the use terrorists can and do make of the Internet," said U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy. "Colleen LaRose and five other individuals scattered across the globe are alleged to have used the internet to form a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism, culminating in a direct order to LaRose to commit murder overseas. LaRose -- an American citizen whose appearance was considered to be an asset because it allowed her to blend in -- is charged with using the Internet to recruit violent jihadist fighters and supporters, and to solicit passports and funding. 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."