Who is Jihad Jane?
by Steven Emerson
Interview on MSNBC
March 10, 2010
Multimedia for this item
CONTESSA BREWER: Major story here in the war on terror. Prosecutors have indicted a Suburban Pennsylvania woman who goes by the name of "Jihad Jane." She's accused of being part of a global terror plot and prosecutors say Colleen LaRose used the internet to recruit Jihadists and to help terrorists overseas. She and seven others are being held accused of plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist whose renderings of the Prophet Mohammad sparked protests across the Muslim world. Raising all kinds of questions about homegrown terrorists. Joining me now is Terrorism expert Steve Emerson. Ok, Steve here's a woman who is using her appearance; blonde hair, blue eyes to help her, she says, blend in, actively recruiting other terrorists. What are you learning about her motivation?
STEVEN EMERSON: Well, she was an Islamic convert; she converted to Islam and pretty quickly she became a Jihadist. She looked on YouTube specifically for Jihadist videos and then volunteered her services across the world to anybody who would take them. She was contacted several months later by someone in Southeast Asia saying we want you to be part of the Jihad and then ultimately over the next two years she was able to develop a network of five or six co-conspirators some of whom lived in Europe, one of whom lived in the United States and another who lived in Southeast Asia. All of whom were involved in either raising money for Jihad or having her go to Sweden to track down a Swedish artist who had drawn a cartoon that had insulted Muslims. She also tried to get credentials, U.S. credentials for Jihadists so they can travel more easily in Europe and not stand out. She was a one-woman Jihad machine and she perfectly exploited her blonde looks, the fact that she was Caucasian and the fact that she was female and that she could actually marry someone to allow that person to get into Europe for purposes of carrying out Jihad.
BREWER: Here's the thing. I have no trouble seeing that foreign terrorists would love to indoctrinate somebody like this, to bring them into the fold because she doesn't look like your image of a terrorist. That being said if it's so easy to accept someone from the United States into your folds shouldn't it be that easy for our intelligence agencies to infiltrate these groups.
EMERSON: Well, the United States has a very extensive effort to try to infiltrate the Jihadists' network on the internet. The chatrooms as well as those types of incidents like this one. We don't know, for example how long the FBI was tracking her on the internet. We see in the indictment lots of the messages that were retrieved. She was actually interviewed by the FBI in September of 2009 when she denied having any involvement at all with Jihad. That was one of the accounts charged against her for lying to the FBI but it does show you, Contessa, how extensive the internet is today for use in terms of applying for, involving oneself, raising funds for Jihad or actually carrying out a Jihadist attack. There are so many billions of messages that it's really hard to get to the right ones. Some of them are fake, some of them are just bluster, and then some of them are for real like this one.
BREWER: Alright, well, we'll have to wait and see what the federal authorities can learn from this woman. Steve, thanks.
EMERSON: You're welcome.