Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When Irish Eyes are Crazy: The Curious Case of Jihad Jane

According to her neighbors, Colleen LaRose was a cat-loving, drinker and brawler, who never spoke about politics or religion. And her long-time boyfriend says she was a "good-hearted person" that never talked about Islam, or even attended religious services of any kind.

'JihadJane' indictment alleges threat from within U.S.

American Colleen R. LaRose, 46, is accused of using the Internet to recruit and assist Muslim terrorist operations in Europe and Asia.
By Richard A. Serrano
March 10, 2010 (read the whole story here)

Colleen R. LaRose, who dubbed herself "JihadJane," was so intent on waging jihad, authorities said, that she traveled to Sweden to kill an artist in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar [nonbeliever] world."

With blond hair and green eyes, the 46-year-old woman bragged that she could go anywhere undetected, boasting in one e-mail that it was "an honour & great pleasure to die or kill for" jihad, or holy war, the indictment said.
Officials said she began to respond to Internet requests from conspirators abroad and to take a leading role in ongoing plots. They said she stole a U.S. passport and "transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism."

The indictment, which also mentioned but did not identify five unindicted co-conspirators, said that LaRose first came to the attention of the FBI in June 2008 when she posted a comment on YouTube under the user name "JihadJane." She stated that she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" Muslim people.

By December of that year, she was allegedly e-mailing one of the conspirators about her desire to become a shahed, or martyr.
Authorities said she removed and concealed her computer hard drive in her home in Pennsburg, Pa., a rural spot between Philadelphia and Allentown. She left for Europe and joined an online community hosted by the Swedish resident she was believed to be targeting.
"She was the weird, weird, weird lady who lived across the hall," said Eric R. Newell, 36, who works for a National Football League sports agent. "We always called her the crazy lady."

His wife, Kristy, recalled that LaRose "talked to her cats all the time."

The Newells, who moved out of the four-unit building about 18 months ago, said LaRose rarely left her apartment except at night, when she would go drinking and get into fights. They never heard her discuss politics or extremist plots, they said.

"We knew she was crazy," Newell said. "We never knew she was dangerous."

A downstairs neighbor, Renee Herbert, said LaRose often had two young children with her and, for a time, lived with a boyfriend and the boyfriend's ill father.

Boyfriend: 'Jihad Jane' suspect wasn't religious
The Associated Press (read the whole article here)

Her boyfriend of five years said LaRose had never hinted at Muslim leanings or attended religious services of any kind. Kurt Gorman, 47, of Pennsburg, said that he met LaRose in Texas and that nothing seemed amiss until she moved out of their apartment without warning in August.

"I came home and she was gone. It doesn't make any sense," he said Wednesday outside his small business in nearby Quakertown. "She was a good-hearted person."
Authorities said the case shows how terrorist groups are looking to recruit Americans to carry out their goals.

"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.

LaRose had targeted Vilks and had online discussions about her plans with at least one of several suspects apprehended over that plot Tuesday in Ireland, according to the U.S. official.

Irish police said Wednesday those arrested were two Algerians, two Libyans, a Palestinian, a Croatian and an American woman married to one of the Algerian suspects. They were not identified by name.
LaRose called herself JihadJane in a YouTube video in which she said she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" ease the suffering of Muslims, the indictment said. According to the 11-page document, she agreed to obtain residency in a European country and marry one of the terrorists to enable him to live there.

She moved to Europe in August with Gorman's stolen passport and intended to give it to one of her "brothers," the indictment said. She hoped to "live and train with jihadists and to find and kill" the targeted artist, it said.

LaRose also agreed to provide financial help to her co-conspirators in Asia and Europe, the indictment charged.

Irish Arrest 7 Over Threat to Kill Swedish Artist
Published: March 9, 2010 (read the whole story here)

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Irish police arrested seven people Tuesday over an alleged plot to kill a Swedish artist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.

Police said four men and three women were detained in morning raids in the counties of Cork and Waterford on Ireland's south coast. Under Irish anti-terrorist law they could be interrogated for up to a week before being charged or released.

Vilks said his telephone threats came from ''a Swedish-speaking Somali. He reminded me about what had happened to Westergaard and threatened with a follow-up and that 'now it's your turn'.''

Irish police said the suspects were aged from their mid-20s to their late 40s. They said three men and two women were arrested in Waterford, two others in the Cork City suburb of Ballincollig. Searches on at least nine properties were conducted.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favorable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Westergaard became a target after his 2005 cartoons depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

Vilks became a target because of a series of drawings that he had originally made for an art exhibition. The gallery refused to show them, citing security concerns. A Swedish newspaper printed the dog-bodied drawing alongside an editorial defending the freedom of expression.

In response, terror organization Al-Qaida in Iraq announced a $100,000 bounty for Vilks' assassination. He was placed under police protection and moved to a secret location in Sweden.

I am hard-pressed to figure-out how murdering a Swedish artist would "ease the suffering of Muslims", or how spending $100,000---to have him killed---would be more effective than giving that money to poor Muslim communities; but then again, I am not crazy or Muslim.

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