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'Jihad Jane' to change plea to guilty

Colleen LaRose of Pennsylvania, who used the online name 'Jihad Jane,' is expected to reverse last year's not-guilty plea to charges related to a suspected plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist.

January 29, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

A Pennsylvania woman accused of plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog appears set to change her plea to guilty.

Colleen LaRose, 47, pleaded not guilty last March to charges including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country. A court document released Friday shows she is set to change her plea at a hearing in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

LaRose never publicly professed faith in Islam at home in Pennsburg, 35 miles north of Philadelphia — not even to her live-in boyfriend. But online, authorities say, she went under the name "Jihad Jane" and "Fatima LaRose," posed for her MySpace photo in a burka, and wrote about her desire to become a martyr for Islam.

According to the federal indictment against her, LaRose "recruited men online to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe" and recruited women to support them.

She traveled to Europe in August 2009, allegedly with the intent to find and assassinate cartoonist Lars Vilks. She took her boyfriend's passport when she left the United States with the intent of providing it to militants, according to the indictment.

LaRose was arrested by the FBI in October 2009. The case did not become public until March, when the indictment against her was unsealed, following the arrest of seven other people in Ireland in connection with a suspected plot to assassinate Vilks.

Attorneys representing LaRose could not be reached for comment Saturday. Defense attorney Mark Wilson told CNN that his client had decided to enter a guilty plea.

A second American woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado, was among those arrested last year in Ireland. According to the indictment, the two women had been in touch online. The day after Paulin-Ramirez arrived in Europe, she married another suspected plotter, a man she had never met in person.

Paulin-Ramirez was released by Irish authorities and returned voluntarily to the United States, where she was arrested and charged.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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