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Terrorism & Security

Jihad Jane pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

Colleen LaRose, also known as Jihad Jane, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in Philadelphia Thursday. Reports say she has already confessed to the FBI her role in a murder plot.

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“The US is exporting militants, armed with radical interpretations of Islam and US passports, overseas at an alarming rate. In addition to David Headley, the Virginia students, and others, there has been a wave of Americans traveling to Somalia to fight with Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group,” Oren Segal, director of Islamic affairs at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told the Monitor.

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A one-time fundamentalist Christian from Texas and Michigan, LaRose had married and divorced twice, and had been arrested several times for public intoxication, writing bad checks, and fighting, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

LaRose was arrested in October in the Philadelphia airport, after traveling to Europe carrying the American passport of her male companion. According to the New York Times, authorities say she stole the passport and intended to give it to a co-conspirator in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist "who depicted the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog."

After her hearing Thursday, her public defender declined to comment on her mental state but added that none of her family or friends had come to support her in the courtroom, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Although she wore a burqa in pictures online and wrote e-mails pledging her desire to die for the cause, the Council on American-Islamic Relations noted that her live-in boyfriend said she never expressed Islamic sympathies nor pledged faith at a mosque, the LA Times adds.

"Maybe it's not the Islamic faith that is making them do this; maybe it's just their personal demons," Ibrahim Hooper, the Council's national communications director, told the Times.

IN PICTURES: American Jihadis

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