A former Pennsburg borough resident, who admitted to her role in a terror plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist, has been sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison.
Colleen LaRose, who posted online as “Jihad Jane,” was sentenced Monday by Chief U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker. Facing a life sentence, she was given credit for her guilty plea and her help in cases against co-defendants Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a former Colorado housewife, and Mohammad Hassan Khalid, who was a high school sophomore from Maryland at the time of his arrest.
LaRose already served four years in a Philadelphia prison, reportedly in solitary confinement after being charged with terrorism in 2009, but was recently moved to general population.
LaRose, who reportedly told a judge she was consumed by thoughts of an Islamic holy war, converted to Islam after meeting a Muslim man during a one-night stand while on vacation with her boyfriend in Amsterdam in 2007. She currently maintains her faith, according to multiple sources.
She pursued her obsession with jihad online after she got home from that vacation, authorities said, as she sought out Muslim extremists while caring for her boyfriend’s ailing father. LaRose lived with her unsuspecting boyfriend at a home in the 400 block of Main Street.
She allegedly raised money and recruited other extremists through the internet. LaRose reportedly stole her boyfriend’s passport and birth certificate to aid other terrorists, authorities said.
Her desire to follow radical Islam peaked in 2009 when she followed the orders of a Pakistani “brother,” who identified himself as a member of Al Qaida, and flew to Europe as part of a murder plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Vilks depicted the prophet Mohammed as a dog in an illustration, inciting radicals who put a $100,000 bounty on his head.
LaRose was ordered to shoot Vilks six times in the chest, according to testimony in the case. She reportedly told authorities she felt honored as a “sister” to be asked to kill a foe of Islam.
Authorities said LaRose was vulnerable and appealed to terrorists because of her petite frame, blonde hair, green eyes and U.S. passport.
Lawyers said LaRose was unhappy with the disorganization of the terror cell in Ireland, where she spent about six weeks, and flew home without acting on the plot. Authorities said she was never closer than 300 miles to Vilks.
She was arrested by the FBI immediately upon returning to the U.S. in April 2009.
Vilks, who commented to multiple news outlets on the “harshness” of her 10-year sentence this week, said he believes LaRose needs more mental help than time in jail.
According to a 2011 interview with Reuters, LaRose suffered from sexual and physical abuse as a child at the hands of her biological father and turned to prostitution at age 14. She also had a history of failed marriages, which started at age 16, and drug and alcohol abuse.
LaRose, 50, will be supervised for five years after her release, in accordance with Monday’s judgment. Paulin-Ramirez and Khalid are due to be sentenced later this week.