The FBI has arrested a suburban Pennsylvania woman who calls herself "Jihad Jane," accusing her of being part of an Islamic terror plot. Here, the key facts currently being reported about this alleged homegrown terrorist:
Who is she?
Colleen Renee LaRose, 46, of Montgomery county in eastern Pennsylvania. Said by neighbors to be an "average housewife," LaRose is also known to federal authorities as "Fatima Rose" and "Jihad Jane."
How did she get her nickname?
LaRose allegedly posted a video on YouTube in June 2008 under the name "JihadJane," saying she was "desperate to do something" to help Muslims.
What is she accused of?
Plotting to kill Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog in a Stockholm newspaper in 2007. After vowing online to attack Vilks, LaRose travelled to Stockholm last August and visited the area where cartoonist lives, but apparently never actually made an attempt against his life. LaRose is also facing charges of aiding terrorists and attempted identity theft.
When and where was she arrested?
On October 16, 2009, in Philadelphia. She has been held without bail ever since.
Why are we only finding out about this now?
U.S. authorities decided to keep the arrest quiet until LaRose's co-conspirators were rounded up. The arrest of seven plotters in Ireland last week meant her name could be released.
How did she get involved with Islamist fundamentalists?
Through the internet. After posting on Islamist websites that she was willing to help Jihadist groups, she was contacted and told to recruit men and women for Jihad and raise money for Islamic fighters. She even married a would-be Algerian terrorist so that he could travel to Europe.
Was she a willing convert?
Yes. She even said her physical appearance — fair skinned and blonde — would allow her to "blend in with many people" and would be her way "to achieve what is in my heart." Her MySpace profile reportedly displays "pictures of bloodshed and violence" with pro-Palestine slogans.
Was she difficult to track down?
No. According to ABC's counterterrorism consultant Richard Clarke, LaRose was so "easy" to find that she "might as well have advertised" her intentions.
Did the FBI contact her prior to her arrest?
She was questioned by FBI agents on July 17, 2009 but denied using the online alias Jihad Jane or making postings on Islamist websites.
Are there others like her?
LaRose is one of several Americans known to have Jihadist sympathies. Another is Adam Gadahn, the U.S.-born Al Qaeda spokesperson. But LaRose's appearance is cause for concern, according to Michael L. Levy, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania. "It shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance," he told the NY Times.
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