Top 10 American jihadis: Where does Jihad Jane rank on the list?

Pennsylvania woman Colleen LaRose, or 'Jihad Jane,' is only the latest in a string of American-born Muslim extremists, experts say. Here's a Top 10 list.

Tom Green County Jail/AP/File
Pennsylvania woman Colleen R. LaRose also known as 'Jihad Jane,' shown in this June 26, 1997 file photo, is only the latest in a string of Americans to support violent jihad.

Pennsylvania woman Colleen LaRose, who called herself Jihad Jane, is only the latest in a string of Americans to support violent jihad. Her alleged mission to recruit fighters and murder a Swedish artist falls into a rising tide of homegrown Islamic militants who are using their passports and linguistic skills to promote global jihad.

“Homegrown terrorism is increasing. There is no doubt about it,” says Steven Emerson, author of “Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US.”

“Look at the last year – I think there were more than a dozen would-be attacks, and most involving homegrown Americans. We’re definitely seeing a rise,” he said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

IN PICTURES: Top 10 American jihadis

In the month alone before Ms. LaRose’s October 15 arrest, authorities detained American-born men David Headley and Najibullah Zazi for allegedly conspiring attacks.

Mr. Zazi was allegedly plotting to blow up New York’s subways with homemade bombs. Mr. Headley allegedly scouted locations for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 170 people, and also planed a strike against the Danish newspaper that published controversial cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

These are just a few of the terrorist plots uncovered in the US since 9/11. Here's a longer list.

LaRose is a caucasian convert to Islam who believed her blonde hair and blue eyes would help her move freely in Sweden to carry out an attack on cartoonist Lars Vilks, according to the indictment unsealed Tuesday in a federal court in Pennsylvania.

“The case demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause and it shatters any lingering thoughts that one can spot a terrorist on a appearance," US Attorney Michael Levy said in the 11-page indictment unsealed in Philadelphia.

LaRose is one of few American women ever charged with terror violations. Lynne Stewart was convicted of helping imprisoned blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman communicate with his followers, and Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui was found guilty of shooting at US personnel in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.

Who's in and who's out

Our top 10 list is somewhat subjective. To keep it short, a number of notable US-born terrorists were not included, including Abu Yahya Mujahdeen Al-Adam, a Pennsylvania native who became an Al Qaeda operative and reportedly "close friend" of Osama bin Laden. Pakistani media have reported that he was arrested this past weekend in Karachi.

Our list also leaves out the 2007 plot of six New Jersey men charged with conspiring to attack Fort Dix; the 2009 Synagogue terror plot of four men arrested for plotting to blow up Jewish centers in the Bronx; and the Lackawana plot of six Yemeni-Americans arrested in September 2002 on allegations of giving material support to Al Qaeda.

Mr. Emerson, who heads The Investigative Project on Terrorism in Washington, D.C., says the fundamentalist Islamic community is quick to pounce on young and impressionable foreign converts.

"I was amazed at the way the global jihad village converged very quickly after [LaRose] offered to carry out jihad,” he says. “It was pretty eye-opening to see how quickly she was able to insert herself into a jihad plot."

"The question is whether there is a growth of radicalism within the American Muslim community, or whether in fact it’s always been there and it’s now being exploited by virtue of technology."

IN PICTURES: Top 10 American jihadis

Who would you include – or leave off – this list?

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