Homegrown militants like Jihad Jane are joining the Islamist terror threat to the US. For some, it's as much about social distress as it is about radical ideology.
They were born and raised all over the United States. Indiana, Oregon, and New Mexico. Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, and Washington, D.C.
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Some have foreign-sounding names. Others were as familiar as Daniel and John, David and Colleen. But they were all US citizens, and all had become sworn enemies of the United States, radical Islamist jihadis who plotted to carry out – and sometimes succeeded in – attacks that killed fellow Americans.
Most recently, it was Colleen LaRose, the blond, middle-aged woman from a Philadelphia suburb who dubbed herself “Jihad Jane.”
IN PICTURES: American Jihadis
“This case ... demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause, and it shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance,” Michael Levy, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement regarding the charges against Ms. LaRose, which include conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder overseas.
Over the past year, more than 30 American citizens have been charged with terrorist-related acts, says Oren Segal, director of Islamic affairs at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
Among the notable cases from the past year, Mr. Segal notes, are:
•Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, an American Muslim convert, shot two uniformed American soldiers – one of whom was killed – at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., on June 1, 2009.
•Five American students were
detained in Pakistan in December for apparently attempting to join terrorist groups fighting against US-led forces in Afghanistan.
•Four Muslim converts – three American and one Haitian – were
arrested in May for an alleged plot to
attack two synagogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at a military base in Newburgh, N.Y.