Pennsylvania woman Colleen LaRose, who called herself Jihad Jane, is only the latest in a string of Americans to support violent jihad. Her alleged mission to recruit jihadist fighters and murder a Swedish artist falls into a rising tide of homegrown Islamic militants who are using their passports and linguistic skills to promote global jihad.
"Homegrown terrorism is increasing. There is no doubt about it," says Steven Emerson author of "Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US."
"Look at the last year – I think there were more than a dozen would-be attacks, and most involving homegrown Americans. We're definitely seeing a rise," he said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
In the month alone before LaRose's October 15 arrest, authorities detained American-born men David Headley and Najibullah Zazi for allegedly conspiring attacks.
Mr. Zazi was allegedly plotting to blow up New York's subways with homemade bombs. Mr. Headley allegedly scouted locations for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people, and also planed a strike against the Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in 2005.
These are just a few of the terrorist plots uncovered in the US since 9/11. Here's a longer list.
Ms. LaRose, is a caucasian convert to Islam who believed her blonde hair and blue eyes would help her move freely in Sweden to carry out an attack on cartoonist Lars Vilks, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday in a federal court in Pennsylvania.
The only other women charged in the US with terror violations have been lawyer Lynne Stewart, convicted of helping imprisoned blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman communicate with his followers, and Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist found guilty of shooting at US personnel in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.
"The case demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause and it shatters any lingering thoughts that one can spot a terrorist on a appearance," US Attorney Michael Levy said in the 11-page indictment unsealed in Philadelphia.
Who's in and who's out
Our top 10 list is somewhat subjective. To keep our list to 10, a number of notable US-born terrorists were not included, including Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al-Adam, a Pennsylvania native who became an Al Qaeda operative commanding fighters in Afghanistan, and a reported "close friend" of Osama bin Laden. Pakistani media have reported that he was arrested this past weekend in Karachi.
Our list also leaves out the 2007 plot of six New Jersey men charged with conspiring to attack Fort Dix; the 2009 Synagogue terror plot of four men arrested for plotting to blow up Jewish centers in the Bronx and shoot down planes at a nearby Air National Guard Base; and Lackawana plot of the six Yemeni-Americans who lived in the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna and were arrested in September 2002 on allegations of giving material support to Al Qaeda.
Emerson, who heads The Investigative Project on Terrorism in Washington, D.C., says the fundamentalist Islamic community is quick to pounce on young and impressionable foreign converts.
"I was amazed at the way the global jihad village converged very quickly after she offered to carry out jihad," he says. "It was pretty eye-opening to see how quickly she was able to insert herself into a jihad plot."
"The question is whether there is a growth of radicalism within the American Muslim community, or whether in fact it's always been there and it's now being exploited by virtue of technology."
Who would you include - or leave off this list?