'Jihad Jane': How does Al Qaeda recruit US-born women?
The case of 'Jihad Jane' raises troubling questions about the ability of Al Qaeda to attract US-born women to terrorism.
Blond and green-eyed, Ms. LaRose looks more like a former cheerleader than the Western conception of an Islamist extremist. According to the FBI, she told co-conspirators in an e-mail that her appearance would allow her to blend in “with many people,” so that she could achieve “what is in my heart.”
Her US passport would also allow her to travel easily in and out of the country.
US counterterrorism officials long have been concerned about the possibility of Islamic radicalization of US natives. But generally speaking, they have focused on potential terrorist recruits that are males.
“The issue of US converts [to radical Islam] is not new,” says Juan Carlos Zarate, senior adviser in the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “What is new is that in this case, the convert may be a middle-aged female.”
'Jihad Jane' and five unindicted co-conspirators
An indictment filed in federal court on March 4 and unsealed Tuesday charges LaRose and five unindicted co-conspirators with recruiting people on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe.
The indictment further charges that LaRose received a direct order to kill a Swedish resident. She traveled to Sweden and tracked the target with the intent of carrying out the murder, according to the FBI.
Law-enforcement authorities identified the target as cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had drawn a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.
In an e-mail message to a co-conspirator, LaRose wrote that she would pursue her mission “till I achieve it or die trying,” according to the indictment.