Pennsylvania Woman Pleads Guilty in Plot to Recruit Violent Jihadist Fighters and to Commit Murder Overseas
WASHINGTON – Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” 47, pleaded guilty today to all counts of a superseding indictment charging her with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements and attempted identity theft. LaRose faces maximum potential sentence of life in prison and a $1 million fine when she is sentenced.
The guilty plea, which was entered today before U.S. District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was announced today by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Zane David Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and George C. Venizelos, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
LaRose, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Montgomery County, Pa., was first charged by indictment in March 2010. A superseding indictment was filed in April 2010, adding co-defendant Jamie Paulin Ramirez, a U.S. citizen and former resident of Colorado. Ramirez is awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin May 2, 2011.
According to documents filed with the court, LaRose and her co-conspirators recruited men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.
LaRose and her co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. LaRose also stole another individual’s U.S. passport and transferred it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.
In addition, LaRose received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten “the whole Kufar [non-believer] world.” LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment and she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. LaRose later traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task.
“Today’s guilty plea, by a woman from suburban America who plotted with others to commit murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face,” said Assistant Attorney General Kris. “I applaud the many agents and analysts and prosecutors who helped bring about today’s result.”
“We are working diligently to protect the public by investigating and prosecuting terrorists,” said U.S. Attorney Memeger. “Today’s plea is an illustration of the dedication – by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, this office, and the National Security Division – to achieve that goal.”
“The guilty plea in this case today demonstrates our need to remain vigilant to the continuing and evolving threats that we face in addressing terrorism,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Venizelos. “Our Joint Terrorism Task Forces and our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities need to, more than ever, stay creative in our approaches to preventing acts of terrorism.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Philadelphia, the FBI Field Division in New York, the FBI Field Division in Denver, and the FBI Field Office in Washington, D.C. Authorities in Ireland and Sweden also provided assistance in this matter.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Matthew F. Blue, Trial Attorney from the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division also provided assistance.