A Pennsylvania woman accused in a plot to recruit men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe is expected to change her plea to guilty in federal court Tuesday. According to an indictment, Colleen LaRose, also known as "Jihad Jane," also recruited women online who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad. She pleaded not guilty in March.
The indictment further alleged LaRose was ordered by jihadists to kill a Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks who portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a dog. The act was to be carried out in a way that would terrify "the whole Kufar [non believer] world." Since his 2007 caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, Vilks has been targeted by violent jihadists worldwide, including al Qaida.
In an e-mail to a fellow conspirator, LaRose expressed her determination to kill the cartoonist: "i will make this my goal till i achieve it or die trying." She also added in a subsequent e-mail that "i agree it is good to blend in."
LaRose's appearance, a 47-year-old blonde American living in Montgomery County, Pa., was considered to be an asset because it allowed her to blend in while carrying out an attack.
LaRose has also been linked to American-born radical Yemeni cleric Anwar Awlaki. She is alleged to have used a YouTube account for jihad recruiting under the name "mzwiidkat," and is listed as a 'friend' through that account on YouTube's Anwar Awlaki Lectures Channel. Awlaki has been known to have influenced several American jihadists in perpetrating acts of terror.
The case demonstrates the changing face of terror and the use of new technologies in terrorist recruiting. According to U.S. Attorney Michael Levy, it demonstrates the danger of using the Internet to recruit violent jihadists and shatters the notion that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance.