A Pennsylvania woman has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and recruit men and women on the Internet to wage "violent jihad" in south Asia and Europe.
According to the indictment, unsealed in a Pennsylvania court, American citizen Colleen R LaRose, also known as 'Fatima LaRose' and 'Jihad Jane' 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.
LaRose, born in 1963, and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the US) used the internet to recruit women who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad, prosecutors said.
"Tuesday'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," Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division David Kris said.
La Rose has been in custody since October 15 last year, arrested only days after another American citizen David Coleman Headley was arrested by the FBI in Chicago. Headley, charged with plotting terror attacks in India and Denmark, too has strong ties with Pennsylvania. His mother Serrill Headley brought him to Philadelphia, where she ran a bar called Khyber Pass, after she separated from his Pakistani father.
If convicted, LaRose faces a potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine.
LaRose posted a comment on YouTube on June 20, 2008 under the username 'JihadJane', stating that she is "desperate to do something somehow to help" the suffering Muslim people.
In December 2008, an un-indicted co-conspirator, resident of a South Asian country, sent an E-mail to LaRose stating his desire to "wage jihad and become a 'Shaheed' (martyr)". LaRose replied that she also desires to become a "martyr in the name of Allah".
The woman allegedly received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden 'RS', "and to do so in a way that would frighten the whole Kafir (non-believer) world".
The indictment further states that LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, as "her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans".
In August 2009, she travelled to Europe with the intent to live and train with jihadists and to find and kill 'RS #1'
The indictment further charges that LaRose and her un-indicted 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.
In March 2009, a third un-indicted co-conspirator wrote to LaRose that she "can get access to many places due to our nationality".
Later the co-conspirator asked LaRose "to marry me to get me inside Europe". The woman is also charged with stealing another individual's US passport and transferring or attempting to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
"This case shows the use terrorists can and do make of the Internet," US Attorney Michael Levy said.
"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, Levy said.
Law enforcement officials and intelligence communities must continue to remain vigilant in the face of the threats that the US faces, in whatever form those threats may present themselves or no matter how creative those who threaten us try to be, said Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. PTI