WASHINGTON — US authorities charged Tuesday an American woman known as "JihadJane" with recruiting jihadist fighters to plan deadly attacks in Europe and South Asia.
The Justice Department unsealed an indictment against Colleen LaRose from Pennsylvania, who was arrested in October 2009, and said she had been given a direct order to kill an unidentified Swedish citizen.
The indictment charged LaRose with "conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft."
It said LaRose and five unindicted co-conspirators in Asia, Europe and the US had recruited men on the Internet to commit attacks as well as women "who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad."
The indictment alleges that LaRose, "a woman from suburban America, agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists," said assistant attorney general David Kris in a statement.
LaRose, who was born in 1963, was given a "direct order to kill a citizen of Sweden and to do so in a way that would frighten 'the whole Kufar (non-believer) world," the indictment said.
It was not clear if LaRose was linked to seven Muslims arrested Tuesday in Ireland in coordination with US and European security agencies over an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist.
Lars Vilks has a 100,000-dollar (74,000-euro) bounty on his head from an Al-Qaeda-linked group for drawing the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.
LaRose, also identified by the monikers "Fatima LaRose" and "JihadJane," faces life in prison if convicted.
The LaRose case was seen as particularly notable because it reveals the lengths to which plotters are going to recruit Westerners who can easily blend in and not draw extra scrutiny from security officers.
It "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," US attorney Michael Levy said in a statement.
LaRose was described as "an American citizen whose appearance was considered to be an asset because it allowed her to blend in," and used the Internet to establish relations with fellow radicals.
They used the Internet "to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad."
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