Colleen R. LaRose, 46, of Pennsbury, Pa. has been indicted for allegedly using the Internet to recruit jihadists.
A Montgomery County, Pa. woman has been charged with using the Internet to recruit jihadist fighters, help terrorists overseas and allegedly agreeing to kill a Swedish citizen.
Colleen R. LaRose, 46, of Pennsburg, Pa., allegedly worked with five co-conspirators to recruit men who would carry out violent attacks and women who would assist in the jihad crimes, according to a federal indictment released Tuesday.
The unidentified co-conspirators reside in South Asia, Europe and the U.S. and were not indicted in LaRose's case.
LaRose, who also went by the names "Fatima LaRose" and "JihadJane," allegedly began communicating via email with the co-conspirators in December 2008.
In the emails, she allegedly discussed her desire to "wage jihad and become a 'shahed'" or martyr, according to the indictment.
LaRose said her blonde hair, blue eyed appearance would help her "blend in" and carry out the acts. She also left a comment on a YouTube video saying she was "desperate to do something somehow to help," the indictment said. Her YouTube account has since been disabled.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris said in a statement.
Writing to a man from South Asia, LaRose agreed to obtain European residency in Sweden, marry the man and then seek out and kill a Swedish citizen, the indictment said.
That citizen, artist Lars Vilks, was targeted after he drew a piece depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammad's head on the body of a dog. A Swedish newspaper then ran the drawing as a cartoon.
After the cartoon was published in August 2007, Al-Qaida put out a $100,000 bounty on his head.
Vilks murder was to be carried out "in a way that the whole Kufar [non-believer] world get frightened."
According to the indictment, federal agents questioned LaRose in July 2009 about her online dealings. Officials claim she denied ever using the Internet to help raise money or support terrorism.
Shortly after, she's accused of traveling to Sweden to train with jihadists and find and help kill Vilks, officials claim.
The murder never took place and LaRose returned to the U.S. on Oct. 15, 2009. She was taken into custody by federal authorities in Philadelphia that day, officials said.
LaRose, who is originally from Texas, faces charges of 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 had an initial court appearance the next day but didn't enter a plea. If found guilty, she faces life in prison and a $1 million fine. Her federal public defender Mark T. Wilson declined to comment Tuesday.
As for the jihad against Vilks, LaRose was not charged with attempted murder, but Irish authorities did take seven suspects into custody as part of a murder conspiracy against Vilks Tuesday.
A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman wouldn't confirm the case is related to the group arrested in Ireland.
LaRosa is scheduled for arraignment at the Philadelphia federal courthouse 10:30 a.m. March 18.