He was a 15-year-old high school honors student in Ellicott City when federal prosecutors say he went online to solicit money for a woman who called herself “Jihad Jane” and “Fatima LaRose.”
Authorities say that in Web postings two years ago, the youth “appealed for urgent funds” for the suspected terrorist, whose real name is Colleen R. LaRose, 47, of Philadelphia. “I know the sister and by Allah, all money will be transferred to her.”
The FBI arrested the youth, who is now 17, about a month ago and is detaining him in Pennsylvania on terrorism-related charges, according to law enforcement sources and a published newspaper account. He had been accepted to attend Johns Hopkins University this fall on a full scholarship. A school spokesman said he has withdrawn.
It is unclear whether the Howard County teenager collected any money for LaRose, who faces life in prison when sentenced. She pleaded guilty in February to providing material support to terrorists, including a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims by drawing the prophet Muhammad’s head on the body of a dog.
All records and files pertaining to the teen’s arrest have been sealed in U.S. District Court. His name does not appear in any public court filing, and prosecutors and FBI spokesmen in Baltimore and in Philadelphia declined to comment. But a law enforcement source in Baltimore who is familiar with the case confirmed that a juvenile had been arrested in connection with that case.
The teen’s family spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, which published a story on Friday.
In it, the family complained that they had allowed their son to spend a lot of time with FBI agents because they thought it was part of a cooperative arrangement. Relatives, who were not identified by the newspaper, said they didn’t expect their son to be arrested.
They agreed to talk to the reporter on the condition the youth be identified only by his first name and first initial of his last name — Mohammed K. The Baltimore Sun confirmed the youth’s identity, but does not typically name juveniles charged with crimes.
The teen graduated from Mount Hebron High School this year. His name repeatedly shows up on the honor roll. Last year, he received an honorable mention in a prose writing contest sponsored by the CityLit Project.
His high school principal and teachers declined to comment. Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the Howard County school system, said the teen was a “very hard working student.”
The teen’s brother declined on Friday to speak to a reporter from the Baltimore Sun.
The young suspect’s attorney, Jeffrey M. Lindy of Philadelphia, also declined to comment, saying that his client’s case was sealed by the court and that it would be improper for him to speak publicly.
The only public information about the Ellicott City youth’s alleged connection to “Jihad Jane” comes from the indictment filed against LaRose.
The full scope of the government’s case against the youth could not be learned, as documents remain under seal.
— Baltimore Sun