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JihadJane, an American woman, faces terrorism charges

Colleen Renee LaRose
Colleen Renee LaRose (Courtesy of San Angelo, Tex., Police Department)
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Months later, the indictment said, "JihadJane" described herself in a June 2008 YouTube posting as "desperate to do something somehow to help" suffering Muslims.

LaRose allegedly went on to recruit others, asking whether the prospects were European citizens who could travel freely. She looked for recruits whose physical appearance would "blend in with many people" and go undetected in Europe and the United States. She allegedly agreed to marry one co-conspirator in an effort to ease his path to Europe, according to e-mails cited in the indictment.

By March 2009, LaRose had reached out to the Swedish Embassy for information about how to acquire permanent residency in Sweden. The man identified as her potential fiance sent her instructions to "go to sweden . . . find location of" the target and "kill him . . . this is what i say to u."

LaRose allegedly responded, "i agree that it is good i blend in."

An FBI interview

FBI agents interviewed LaRose in July 2009 in Pennsylvania, where she told them that she had not solicited money for terrorism or posted on a terrorist Web site, according to the indictment, nor used the handle "JihadJane."

In August, LaRose removed and hid the hard drive from her home computer, authorities said. The same day, she traveled to Sweden "with the intent to live and train with jihadists, and to find and kill" her target, the indictment said. LaRose took with her the U.S. passport of a man identified only as "K.G.," with whom she lived, to give it to "the brothers," the indictment said.

In September, she performed online searches to find her target, joined an electronic community that he hosted and journeyed to his artists' enclave in Sweden, the indictment said. By Sept. 30, LaRose e-mailed the man identified as her fiance, saying it would be "an honour & great pleasure to die or kill for" him and asserting that "only death will stop me here that i am so close to the target!"

LaRose ultimately returned to the United States, where she was charged in October in a criminal complaint with helping transfer a U.S. passport belonging to K.G. She appeared in court in Pennsylvania on Oct. 16, where she was appointed a public defender, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney and a representative in the public defender's office.

Authorities declined to address Tuesday why the grand jury indictment of LaRose remained under seal for so long and whether she may have helped law enforcement during her months-long incarceration.

But the Justice Department has used such a strategy in several cases to glean more intelligence information on suspects and plots before making their investigations public, veterans of the department said. Spokesman Dean Boyd said "there were investigative activities we had to protect, and had the case been made public . . . those activities could have been jeopardized."

J. Patrick Rowan, former chief of the Justice Department's national security division, said the LaRose indictment is "another indication of how the threats come from all directions."

"If nothing else, it's another reminder to the FBI of the obligation to run down every lead and every threat, because they can't be too far-fetched," Rowan said.

Staff writer Spencer S. Hsu and staff researchers Alice Crites and Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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